A professional journalism council denied full accreditation to the prestigious University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media on the basis that the school did not meet the council’s standard for “diversity and inclusiveness.” The president of the organization, Peter Bhatia, claimed that the university’s denial of tenure to 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones was not the explicit reason but said that “the conversation during the meeting centered a great deal around the way journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was treated during her hiring and tenure appointment.”
The rejection represents institutional journalism’s full-throated support of the 1619 Project. The irony is not lost on many, as 1619 was criticized by scores of historians for being example No. 1 of journalistic malpractice. The project was demonstrated to have twisted history to serve an ideological end, and Hannah-Jones’ opening essay for the project required significant corrections due to its inaccuracies.
The council, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, which grants accreditation to journalism schools in the United States, has thus planted itself firmly in the camp of using journalism to further a left-wing agenda.
The rejection of full accreditation for UNC’s journalism school also was likely founded upon the premise that the denial of tenure to Hannah-Jones was based on racism — which she and many others alleged when she blasted the school and quit in disgust. Many critics have disagreed with that assertion, saying that the denial of tenure was consistent with normal university hiring practices, as the New York Times writer had not previously held a teaching position. The denial was also based on the fact that Hannah-Jones’ best-known work is riddled with journalistic fallacies.
The decision sends a warning shot to universities: if you do not fully embrace critical race theory, professional institutions staffed by left-wing radicals can and will punish you. It also marks a further incursion of diversity requirements into higher education, pushing the benchmark far beyond affirmative action and towards an expectation that racial minorities should be promoted beyond what is the norm for white people.
Hannah-Jones was offered a five-year contract to be the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at Hussman. After she was denied tenure, she led a media campaign that accused the university of committing a grave injustice against her. Dozens of faculty at the journalism school joined in, and even her editors at the New York Times criticized the decision. After a weeks-long campaign, UNC gave in and granted her tenure. Following the university’s announcement, Hannah-Jones said she was leaving Hussman and would instead join the historically black Howard University.
“It’s pretty clear that my tenure was not taken up because of political opposition, because of discriminatory views against my viewpoint and, I believe, my race and my gender,” she told CBS News at the time (Hannah-Jones is biracial).
“This is not my fight. I fought the battle that I wanted to fight, which is I deserve to be treated equally and have a vote on my tenure,” she added. “I won that battle, but it’s not my job to heal the University of North Carolina.”
UNC’s journalism school received a provisional accreditation status from the accreditation council. This means the school will be reevaluated with an investigation in two years, and if at that time it does not meet the diversity standard of the agency, it will lose its accredited status. The council, which alleged Hussman has problems with diversity that are “systemic of the culture,” said Hussman will need to better integrate “diversity and inclusion” into its curriculum in order to preserve its accreditation.
“The [Hannah-Jones] controversy,” the council wrote, “exposed long-standing problems. Many stem from inconsistencies in executing the goals in the 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.”
Mimi Chapman, the chair of the UNC’s faculty council, complained about the decision, noting that it was the university administration and not the journalism school that decided against giving tenure to Hannah-Jones. “The faculty and students bear the brunt for a situation that they didn’t create,” she said, “and that’s a shame.”
Of the 44 faculty listed on Hussman’s website, 13 appear to be racial minorities and 22 are women, demonstrating that for the diversity, equity, and inclusion cabal, mere diversity is not enough. Ideological adherence to the left-wing agenda of critical race theory propped up in the 1619 Project is the true goal.
The journalism accreditation council makes this point clear in its written standards. In order to be accredited, a school must not only make “effective efforts to recruit women and domestic minority faculty and professional staff and, where feasible, recruit international faculty and professional staff,” but it must also have an “understanding of issues and perspectives that are inclusive in terms of domestic concerns about gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.”
UNC has repented of its denial of tenure to Hannah-Jones and jumped headfirst into the critical race theory delusion. According to the College Fix, the interim dean of Hussman, Heidi Hennink-Kaminski, told faculty that the rejection of full accreditation is an “opportunity to continue to demonstrate unequivocally who we are and what we value.”
A Wall Street Journal investigation into the value of university degrees found that journalism degrees provide a low return on investment. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications is set on ensuring the 119 schools it has accredited continue to divert their gaze from providing a valuable degree and maintain their focus on furthering left-wing orthodoxy.