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May 19, 2021

Incensed UNC journalism faculty are demanding answers about the hiring of New York Times activist reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. So are we.

The faculty want to know why Hannah-Jones wasn’t hired for life. We’re not as interested in her having tenure – something reserved for respected academics.

We want to know:

  1. How was Nikole Hannah-Jones hired in the first place?

The 1619 project she was responsible for was rife with shoddy history because, as Hannah-Jones’ colleague and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens put it, the project was a “thesis in search of evidence.” It tortured facts to drive an ideological agenda. Once upon a time, that would have had no place in a journalism school.

So what was the UNC-CH administration – from the Board of Trustees to the Chancellor -thinking?

The NC Policy Watch blog reported that unnamed Board of Trustees members said the decision to give Hannah-Jones tenure was not brought to an official vote because UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and board members were “aware of the volatility of the question.”  If she was that “volatile,” why was she approved to be hired in the first place?

2.  Why does Nikole Hannah-Jones still have the option for tenure in just five years?

It takes real scholars with PhDs the better part of a decade to earn tenure, which is never guaranteed. Maybe UNC’s Knight Chair tenure process needs scrutiny from the powers that be.

[In case you missed our earlier piece on Ms. Hannah-Jones and her 1619 project, see it here.]