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Michael Goodwin: UNC clash over NY Times writer shows us what’s at stake for journalism's future

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07.06.2021

FOX News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram has the latest on the left's attempt to push the curriculum in schools

A dispute over whether a New York Times writer should get tenure at the University of North Carolina would seem to be of little national importance. But in fact, the outcome will signal whether traditional standards of journalism can survive the onslaught of racialized advocacy the Times embraces.

The clash is especially noteworthy because of the two main antagonists. Both are UNC graduates, but their views of journalism could not be more different.

On one side is Nikole Hannah-Jones, the flame-throwing creator of the Times’ 1619 Project. She won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for an extended essay, but some of her claims were debunked by historians and her push for rewriting American history is cited as a reason why she should not get tenure.

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Her chief critic is Walter E. Hussman Jr., the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and CEO of a family firm that owns newspapers, magazines and TV stations in the South and Midwest. As an evangelist for impartial, fair journalism, he is the polar opposite of Hannah-Jones and says he wishes the Times "would get back to what it once was."

Most important to the case at hand, Hussman has pledged $25 million to UNC, and its journalism school now bears his name. In an interview, he told me he selected the school for his gift two years ago after it agreed to adopt a code of core values based on impartiality he publishes in his 11 newspapers every day. The school also promised to chisel the code into the granite wall of the main entry, which has not yet happened.

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Hussman doesn’t believe Hannah-Jones’ work reflects those standards and says her hiring would make the journalism school "more identified with the 1619 Project than the core values."

"I did not expect to have veto power over who they hired or fired," Hussman said. "But I believe I have an obligation to say so when I think they’re making a mistake."

In a remarkable bit of irony, the core values statement begins with a quotation from Adolph Ochs, who took control of the Chattanooga Times in 1879 and The New York Times in 1896.

Hussman owns the Chattanooga paper, now called the Times Free Press, which he bought........

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