NHJ – What’s She Actually Doing At UNC?

May 25, 2021

Let’s set aside for a moment whether Nikole Hannah-Jones’ work qualifies her – or whether her temperament disqualifies her from teaching journalism at UNC.

We’ve argued “No” here before to the first question.  The Governor James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal published a comprehensive review of Hannah-Jones’ work that dug a bit deeper and is worth reading that included this:

In December of 2019, five historians, led by Princeton Professor Sean Wilentz, wrote an open  letter expressing their “strong reservations about important aspects of The 1619 Project.” The signatories were a politically diverse group: Victoria Bynum at Texas State University, James M. McPherson at Princeton, James Oakes at City University of New York, and Gordon S. Wood at Brown University. They called attention to serious factual errors in the project, including its central thesis that the American Revolution was fought to protect the institution of slavery:

These errors, which concern major events, cannot be described as interpretation or “framing.”  They are matters of verifiable fact, which are the foundation of both honest scholarship and honest journalism. They suggest a displacement of historical understanding by ideology. Dismissal of objections on racial grounds—that they are the objections of only “white historians”—has affirmed that displacement.

Then in March 2020, a fact-checker who had been employed by The New York Times to vet the project came forward to say that Hannah-Jones and the Times knew about these errors before they went to print. Leslie M. Harris, a professor of history at Northwestern University, is no conservative ideologue. Her criticism of Hannah-Jones essay is based on  fact. “Despite my advice, the Times published the incorrect statement about the American Revolution anyway, in Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay,” she wrote in Politico.

Yesterday, John Hood outlined some of the concerns about Hannah-Jones’ temperament in Carolina Journal:

What distinguishes Hannah-Jones isn’t her politics. It’s her conduct. The problem isn’t just that her signature 1619 Project contained significant factual errors and indefensible claims. When challenged about them, she dodgedweaved, and personally smeared her critics. She later tried to “memory hole” much of this.

Much of the mainstream media, especially higher ed and national publications, continue to incorrectly report that Nikole Hannah-Jones was “denied tenure” and insinuated that the denial was on the basis of race.

What we need now is accurate information.  Some elements have come out on her contract.  We’d like the entire picture.  What is Nikole Hannah-Jones actually doing at UNC?

  1. How many classes is she teaching each year?
  2. Will she continue to work for the New York Times?
  3. Is she moving to the area to be part of the UNC-CH community – or continuing to live in New York City?
  4. If she’s continuing to live in New York City, who will cover her travel costs to NC?
  5. How much money is she making – total package, including benefits?
  6. Is her residency, teaching load and compensation normal and in line with other non-tenured faculty – or did Nikole Hannah-Jones’ celebrity result in special privileges that aren’t available to other faculty?

In these days of equity and fairness, isn’t it important that she be treated like other faculty members?  We’ve heard the answers to these questions might surprise you.