Impression: Micah Cohen

As an undergraduate at Tulane, journalist Micah Cohen (TC ’05) was hopeful of writing the “great American novel.”

As an undergraduate at Tulane, journalist Micah Cohen (TC ’05) was hopeful of writing the “great American novel.” The plan was derailed early on — an English major, he eventually had a deflating epiphany that he had nothing insightful to say, at least in terms of a bestselling book.

But an entry-level news clerk position with The New York Times, which he landed shortly after graduation, led to a fulfilling career, starting when he was chosen to join a crew sent down to New Orleans and Baton Rouge to cover Hurricane Katrina.


Micah Cohen seated in front of bookcases
Photo by David Neff

Today, Cohen works as managing editor of, the data-driven website that uses that data and statistical analysis to inform its reporting. Cohen has been with the site for 10 years.

“A big part of FiveThirtyEight is that you can borrow some of the tools of science and apply them to journalism,” he said, “and so we do a lot of reporting on and collaboration with academics.”

“Trying to stand up a website from scratch, or almost from scratch, is really where I learned how to be an editor and manager,” he added. “And that came from making a ton of mistakes.” Those mistakes led to learning experiences, Cohen said.

As a college student, he worked as a doorman at Pat O’Brien’s (he even wore the famous Kelly green jacket), and at restaurants near campus. Those experiences immersed him in New Orleans’ culture.

“I think that helped shape a better appreciation for how little of the world I knew. I took that with me: the culture and [memories of] the people I worked with. The college experience at Tulane definitely forced me to kind of come to grips with what I knew and what I didn’t know.”

When all of the COVID-19 restrictions lift and people can travel freely, Cohen looks forward to returning to New Orleans.

“I just miss the neighborhoods. I miss the architecture. I miss the ‘feeling.’” He wouldn’t rule out a visit when Jazz Fest returns, he said, or Mardi Gras, but prefers to see New Orleans without any hoopla, “when the city is kind of being itself.”