Monday, June 21, 2021

UNC Journalism School Tried To Give Nikole Hannah-Jones Tenure. A Top Donor Objected

 On paper, The New York Times's Nikole Hannah-Jones is a dream hire for the journalism school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She won a MacArthur "genius grant" for her reporting on the persistence of segregation in American life. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her essay accompanying "The 1619 Project," a New York Times Magazine initiative she conceived on the legacy of slavery in the U.S. And Hannah-Jones earned a master's degree from the school itself, in 2003.

Yet the UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees declined to act upon her proposed appointment. That tenure proposal ran aground on race, politics, and, perhaps surprisingly, on a clash between diverging views of journalism.

The opposing view has been embodied by Walter Hussman, the 1968 UNC journalism graduate whose name has graced the school since he made a $25 million pledge. Longtime publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Hussman has shared his opposition to Hannah-Jones' appointment with the journalism school dean, several university administrators, and, reportedly, two members of the UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees.


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