And The Shackles Tighten: Weaponizing Accreditation For Ideological Conformity

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) has voted to downgrade the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media to “provisional accreditation” status. Why? ACEJMC felt that the school’s commitment to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) was less than robust after journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones turned down a tenured position there. A controversy over her hiring arose in 2021 when  Hannah-Jones was offered the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, but only as a five-year contract position instead of tenure. Then, after her supporters forced the trustees to offer tenure by accusing them of racism—it always works! —Hannah-Jones rejected the school to take a tenured position at Howard University.

“[T]he UNC Hussman School is dealing with an existential crisis both internally and externally,” the ACEJMC wrote. “The [Hannah-Jones] controversy… exposed long-standing problems. Many stem from inconsistencies in executing the goals in the 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.”

No, the fact that the school offered a thoroughly exposed fake historian and fact-manipulating, racist journalist  a teaching position at all raise questions about Hussman being fit to train journalists. Nikole Hannah-Jones is an unscrupulous activist, not a journalist, and the dishonesty and misrepresentations of American history in her polemic “1619 Project” are not in serious dispute. She should not have been offered the chair in the first place. The should not be employed as a journalist, never mind being paid to teach journalism.

This is another example of the right result occurring for the wrong reasons. The problem is that the accrediting organization is insisting on more vigorous endorsement of propaganda and demagoguery from the school in pursuit of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” which will make Hussman less worthy of legitimate accreditation. This is a bind that many organizations face: capitulate to threats and penalties to prioritize race propaganda over organizational missions, or be hobbled, condemned, and destroyed. Most will choose survival over integrity.

When profession accrediting organizations act like the Southern Poverty Law Center (“Parrot our progressive ideological cant or we’ll declare you a hate group!”), what is the remedy? It’s not just the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications using woke benchmarks as bludgeons to ensure that the next generation of professionals have the “correct’ views. The ABA and AMA, among others, are ratcheting up the indoctrination pressure as well.

Someone needs to establish  accreditation standards for accrediting organizations.

7 thoughts on “And The Shackles Tighten: Weaponizing Accreditation For Ideological Conformity

  1. Waay late to the party here. The moment diversity requirements were allowed in accreditation standards, conservatives became second-class citizens in education. What is the justification for diversity in an accreditation to determine if the school is actually providing an education? Requiring diversity as an accreditation requirement suggests that Asian, Indian, and African schools are not capable of providing a valid education (since they lack diversity). The Scandinavian schools would also fail this until very recently. Diversity requirements are quite racist and colonial. Once you allow diversity as a requirement, all other social justice viewpoint discrimination is allowed. In fact ‘Social Justice’ was a stated NCATE requirement for all candidates in accredited teacher’s ed programs in this country. You were not (and really, still aren’t) allowed to become a teacher if you are a conservative who won’t bow to the social justice machine.
    Of course, when you add diversity requirements, what do you take out? Academics. Accreditation bodies don’t look at syllabi or final exams. They don’t require standardized test scores. Accreditation measures procedures and adherence to dogma. It does not measure or even look at academic performance of the students in their courses.

  2. The new ACEJMC standards on “Diversity and Inclusion”:
    “The unit demonstrates it has a diverse and inclusive
    program that embodies domestic and global diversity and
    that empowers those traditionally disenfranchised in society, especially as
    grounded in race, ethnicity, gender, ability and sexual orientation.”

    The emphasis is mine (of course). I’m just wondering what the hell this organization is doing deciding how well other people teach how to write effectively and responsibly if they don’t think ability matters… or if they don’t know what the word means to people outside their bubble.

    • Curmie,

      I don’t follow your comment.

      Not sure we are on the same page.

      You understand that “ability” refers “disability,” not ability to teach or write.


      • I gathered that was what was intended. But I’d argue that isn’t what it says.
        If you want to discuss disability, say that… or “physical ability” or something like that. It reads, effectively: “you can’t penalize someone just because they aren’t any good/

  3. According to the linked article:

    “The change is due to the ACEJMC’s concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the school, especially in the wake of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones turning down a tenured position because of administrative controversy surrounding her hiring. In 2021, Hannah-Jones was hired as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism but was originally only offered a five-year contract instead of tenure by the UNC Board of Trustees. Despite later receiving a tenure offer, Hannah-Jones decided to take the same position at Howard University instead. The ACEJMC determined that this high-profile incident was evidence of significant DEI issues within the school that warranted reevaluation of its accreditation.”

    The take-away seems to be: Either grant DIE candidates whatever they want, whenever they want, and for whatever price they want or risk losing accreditation. Awesome. This is the myth of self cannabalism, ¿no? Either submit to The Mob or submit to The Mob, but The Mob won’t be satisfied. Robespierre anyone?


  4. I’m frankly surprised that this hasn’t happened already. Though many private religious schools aren’t accredited, many of them are. I have wondered when the government would start stripping accreditation from schools that don’t toe the line on social issues and other controversial topics.

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