Student journalists, like many other professional students, begin their careers while they are completing their degrees. Student journalism has become more important in recent years because of the intense social climates that universities are facing across the country. At a time where student media is constantly scrutinized, Theodore Kim took the time to divide student journalists instead of unite them.

Theodore Kim is the Director of Newsroom Fellowships and Internships at the New York Times. NYT internships are some of the most coveted and prestigious jobs for anyone in the media world. Seemingly out of nowhere, Kim posted a list on his twitter of schools he believed “churn out the most consistently productive candidates.”

“So I talk to many students entering journalism. Here is one person’s super unscientific opinion on which U.S. schools churn out the most consistently productive candidates. Note that there are many great schools/students beyond these. But these jump out to me…” tweeted Kim.

“Best (no order): Columbia, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, Yale,” tweeted Kim.

While this is great for journalists who attend or attended these prestigious universities, it highlights a level of elitism that exists in higher education in the United States. People that come from less elite colleges are consistently looked down upon, whether or not they are the best in their field.

“I guess I see the point of this thread, but it’s also worth noting that a vast majority of these schools are some of the most expensive and elitist in the country. I think we as journalists miss something when we pull from the same pools over and over again,” tweeted Hayley Harding.

Elite colleges with slim acceptance rates and sky high tuition are great in their own right. These universities have been known to produce incredible alumni who change the world. But that doesn’t mean that people who go to different schools are somehow less. People that don’t go to these elite level schools shouldn’t be cast off like they are inadequate. High-quality journalists that produce high quality work can come from any institution, regardless of their prestige or elite status.

Another issue with Kim’s list is that it causes people to believe that their work isn’t good enough. In 2018, over 6,500 people applied to the summer newsroom internship at the New York Times, which only has 30 spots available. That means that over six thousand people received rejection letters with the bittersweet “thanks but no thanks” that corporate America gives to people who don’t make their cut. But the reality of these rejection letters is that they make people believe that they haven’t done enough to qualify for a NYT internship or fellowship.

Six thousand people who probably had outstanding credentials and completed incredible work were denied from one of the best publications in the United States. Mediocre people don’t apply to the New York Times, only the very best do. But when Theodore Kim says if you don’t come from a powerhouse school you might not be as good of a journalist, it hits your confidence in a way that isn’t justified. If anything, this makes people reconsider the bias that Kim may have toward less prestigious universities.

“Hm, as the Director of Newsroom Fellowships and Internships at the @nytimes, this list begs the question if there’s any bias when you are searching for candidates,” tweeted Matthew Simon.

This list creates a divide between student journalists. Kim unknowingly created a hierarchy of students that will constantly believe in their work and their status specifically because of their school. It’s a sense of entitlement because their degree came with a special university name at the top, and they know if they name drop their school the way that people name drop celebrities, it will take them places. Journalists need to assess their skills based on their work, not where they come from.

“Friends: I’m glad my ranking of j-schools has provoked discussion, but I’m sorry if I sounded elitist and narrow. That wasn’t my intention. If you follow this feed, you know I strongly believe that your work/values define you, not your school. But I tweeted it, so I’ll own it,” Kim tweeted.

Kim later tweeted that his original tweet was taken critically from some journalists around the country. He said this wasn’t his intention and didn’t mean to cause so much controversy. But even with a follow up tweet, this doesn’t erase the damage already done. This doesn’t erase the inadequate feeling journalists at smaller schools will face. And this doesn’t help promote unbiased selections for jobs and internships at the New York Times. Journalists need to support each other, not be pitted against one another.

You are not your college ranking. Whichever college you choose to attend, if you choose to attend college at all, does not define the immeasurable things about you. Your college ranking doesn’t define your work ethic. Your college ranking doesn’t define the quality of the work you’re producing. And your college ranking doesn’t justify whether or not you’re qualified for an internship – only your work and resume can do that.

Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Jacey Gonzalez studies journalism and can be reached at and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.