New York Times Opinion Editor Inspires UM Journalism Students, Faculty

Kathleen Kingsbury discusses state of profession during campus visit

Kathleen Kingsbury (left), opinions editor of The New York Times, talks with Justice Rose, opinion editor of The Daily Mississippian, and other Ole Miss students in the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center. Photo by MacKenzie Ross

OXFORD, Miss. – Kathleen Kingsbury, opinions editor at The New York Times, discussed her career and challenges she faced along the way, as well as offered insight and advice, during an Oct. 13 visit to the University of Mississippi.

Kingsbury participated in a panel discussion, visited classes and stopped by the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center to meet with students and discuss the future of journalism.

Answering questions from Andrea Hickerson, dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, Kingsbury discussed obstacles she has faced as a woman, a mother and in an industry with an uncertain future.

Annie Phelps, a journalism major who attended Kingsbury’s panel discussion titled “Independence and Opinion at The New York Times,” said she left the event feeling inspired.

“No matter what, I can still work my way up, no matter my gender, my economic status,” she said. “I could work hard, and I could make my way up just like she did.”

The industry is facing significant changes dues due to the budget cuts and economic issues, which can then lead to layoffs or burnout for reporters in the newsroom, Kingsbury said.

It is important for reporters to be resilient and adaptable and to know when to take time for themselves and when to put that time into work, she added, detailing how she had to delay her son’s eighth birthday party after news broke about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“One of the big things I think a lot about is just that we live in such an uncertain time,” Kingsbury said.

She echoed those sentiments when speaking to students in one of Charlie Mitchell’s classes.

Journalism professor Charlie Mitchell (right) introduces Kathleen Kingsbury, opinions editor of The New York Times, to his class in Farley Hall. Kingsbury shared her experiences and challenges with journalism students during her visit to campus. Photo by MacKenzie Ross

“She gave a realistic description of the joys and new challenges of serving with America’s largest news writers and opinion leaders,” the associate professor of journalism said. “The students had pointed questions, and her responses were thorough and frank.”

Justice Rose, a journalism student who serves as opinion editor of The Daily Mississippian and vice president of the Ole Miss chapter of the NAACP, spoke to Kingsbury during her visit to the Student Media Center. He said her visit was a reflective opportunity.

“Kingsbury and I are both opinion editors, so I wanted to gain some insight on how she goes about managing an opinion column,” he said. “Her responsibilities are much larger than mine, but it was really grounding to learn we share some methodologies and ideas when editing and curating the opinion column.”

Rose said Kingsbury is a proponent for including diverse voices and ideas, something he said he has also focused on since joining the DM.

“Funny enough, she said the most common edits she makes to pieces are copy edits: little grammatical errors or AP errors,” he said. “I could tell that Kathleen really loves her job and that enthusiasm and passion sort of rubbed off on me.

“I loved that in our conversation she wanted to know about my work process.”

Kingsbury said she believes journalism offers endless opportunities with incredible personal rewards that are well worth any possible drawbacks.

“There’s no better career in the world, right?” she said. “You get to go and learn things, and ask people tough questions, and meet people, and get into really deep conversations with them, and then tell the world about those conversations.”