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.