Jun 1, 2021 - News

Report: Publisher opposed writer's appointment at NC University

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones wears a cap and gown and speaks at a podium

Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks at Morehouse College on May 16, 2021 in Atlanta. Photo: Marcus Ingram/via Getty Images

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher, Walter Hussman, encouraged leaders of North Carolina University to not hire Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones to its faculty. The story was first reported by The Assembly.

  • Hussman, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, committed to give $25 million to its school of journalism in 2019.
  • Hannah-Jones is the founder of the 1619 Project, the New York Times' long-form series about the history of slavery in America.

Why it matters: Hussman's actions undermine the assumed sense of objectivity within journalism.

  • It's one more front in the debate about how systematic racism may be taught to the next generation.

State of play: Hannah-Jones, a Knight Chair, was given a five-year contract with UNC-CH's faculty but was not granted a tenured teaching position despite support from the tenure committee and the school's common practice since the 1980s.

What they're saying: In an e-mail to alumni Monday obtained by Axios, Susan King, dean of UNC's Hussman School of Journalism and Media said, "I’ve been very frank with Walter and always will be. The faculty decide who is invited to join the school and what we teach."

  • Hannah-Jones published a statement online expressing her concerns about not being offered tenure.
  • The Assembly reports her legal team has set a deadline of June 4 for a renewed tenure offer or they would consider legal action.
  • Hussman did not respond to Axios' calls for comment.

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