Hannah-Jones: “All Journalism Is Activism”

We have been discussing the academic saga over the offer of an academic chair by the University of North Carolina to controversial New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. UNC rescinded the offer but then re-extended the offer without tenure. Hannah-Jones accepted but then changed her mind and demanded tenure. UNC then gave her tenure and she changed her mind to take a chair at Howard University. The opposition to Hannah-Jones was based on the historical errors in her 1619 Project and criticism over biased journalism. Now Hannah-Jones is removing any doubt about her view of journalism. She has declared that “all journalism is activism.”

Hannah-Jones told CBS News that journalists now have set aside notions of neutrality. She noted:

“When you look at the model of The Washington Post, right? ‘Democracy dies in darkness,’ that’s not a neutral position. But our methods of reporting have to be objective. We have to try to be fair and accurate. And I don’t know how you can be fair and accurate if you pretend publicly that you have no feelings about something that you clearly do.”

Reporters are now claiming greater and greater license to frame news to illustrate the truth as they see it. They nod to the need for fairness but then note that they have to tell the truth about society and politics as they see it.  They then seek to frame rather than report the news. Hannah-Jones is a great example of how this new journalism quickly becomes raw advocacy.

We have have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. Even journalists are leading attacks on free speech and the free press. Bias is now treated as something that is natural and motivating. Recently, Lauren Wolfe, the recently fired freelance editor for the New York Times, has not only gone public to defend her pro-Biden tweet but published a piece titled I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That.” 

This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.”  Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

For those of us who have worked for decades as columnists and in the media, the growing intolerance for dissenting views is stifling and alarming.  Hannah-Jones has been a leading voice in attacking those with opposing views. A year ago, the New York Times denounced its own publishing of an editorial of Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) calling for the use of the troops to restore order in Washington after days of rioting around the White House.  It was one of the one of the lowest points in the history of modern American journalism. While Congress would “call in the troops” six months later to quell the rioting at the Capitol on January 6th, New York Times reporters and columnists called the column historically inaccurate and politically inciteful. Reporters insisted that Cotton was even endangering them by suggesting the use of troops and insisted that the newspaper cannot feature people who advocate political violence. (One year later, the New York Times published a column by an academic who has previously declared that there is nothing wrong with murdering conservatives and Republicans).

It is thus no surprise that Hannah-Jones will now teach the same biased approach journalism to students at Howard University. What is saddening is the silence of most journalism professors as they watch their profession just become a new form of advocacy. Few want to risk the professional attacks in opposing figures like Hannah-Jones. However, this movement is killing their profession. Polls show trust in the media at an all-time low with less than 20 percent of citizens trusting television or print media. Yet, reporters and academics continue to destroy the core principles that sustain journalism and ultimately the role of a free press in our society.





123 thoughts on “Hannah-Jones: “All Journalism Is Activism””

  1. For whatever reason (maybe complicity) some government officials and the media keep trying to say the Chinese had nothing to do with the escape of the Chinese virus.

    That despite all the evidence pointing directly at the Wuhan lab.

    Now, take the same evidence and plant it on an Israeli virus lab.

    Does anyone doubt that that same evidence that is insufficient to blame China would condemn Israel, and probably Jews (even Ben and Jerry), beyond a reasonable doubt and that WaPo, NYT, NPR and The Gang in Congress would be demanding harsh measures be taken against Israel and the Zionists.

    You know that is true. And that is how degraded and corrupt our media and government have become.

  2. I’m puzzled by the acceptance of foundational principles which Hannah Jones bases her journalism. Newton, Comte, Marx,Dewy, White-White-White-White.

  3. Okay. They are now just outright saying it.
    Fine. No worries.
    I quit reading, listening to MSM years ago.
    And I am better for it.
    As I have mentioned before, alt-media with actual journalists, like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Sharly Attkisson, and many others have larger followings then MSM. And that upsets MSM and their “journalist activists.”

    Matt Taibbi just posted a fantastic article about NPR today.

    I found myself agreeing with him with this comment, “For at least a year especially, listening to NPR has been like being pinned in wrestling beyond the three-count. Everything is about race or gender, and you can’t make it stop.”
    I used to listen to NPR daily.
    But after 2016 and even the few times I tune in recently, it is over the top nauseating.
    And it is not news.

    1. Upstate, Thanks for the link. He captured the stench wafting from NPR perfectly. Years ago I listened to it and even contributed. Now I don’t even know where it is on my radio. I gave up on cable years ago and was just as happy to stop watching propaganda sitcoms and dramas. Apparently I am not alone. I didn’t know Daily Wire had more views than ‘big’ media and NPR, but I was glad to hear it. They are whining and hurting and don’t understand what could be wrong. They are wrong.

      1. Young said,
        “They are whining and hurting and don’t understand what could be wrong.”
        I think that is why so many of Professor Turley’s critics do not understand why his commentary resonates so well with the audience he attracts.

        1. Turley is intellectually honest and honorable.

          I don’t agree with Glenn Greewald’s bssic politics but he, too, is intellectually honest and I respect him.

          Turley and Greenwald have values thst they will consistently defend.

          Much of journalism and politics is staffed with souless human windsocks with no durable values and no commitment to the truth. They go with the prevailing winds and don’t hesitate to lie and then complain that people don’t trust them.

          Look how quickly Democrats who have been yelling for defunding the police spun 180 degrees and lied claiming Republicans want to defund the police when polling showed the idea was unpopular.

          They are despicable.

  4. People go on the offensive against those they fear. If that’s the case, it means corporate media truly do fear the likes of Carlson, Hawley, DeSantis, and Younkin. These men perceive the weak underbelly of progressivist ideology, from disingenuous attempts to downplay and defend critical race theory to excuses for the current administration’s immigration crisis. So, having few (if any) scruples left, the corporate media serves as the attack dog of the Democratic Party.

    Corporate media’s fear means there is indeed hope of reversing the broader political and cultural trends that have intensified not only the border crisis, but the rising homicide rate, the spike in overdose deaths, Americans’ loss of faith in public education, and many other worrying trends. Conservatives must not be cowed by unjust and unprofessional smear campaigns against us and our leaders.

  5. Had UNC not granted Hannah-Jones tenure, Antifa and BLM would have torched the UNC campus buildings.

  6. Advocacy is to journalism like neg am loans were to mortgage lending. It has the appearance of journalism, but before you know it, you’re upside down on the truth. We need a CFPD for the Journalism industry.

    1. CFPB. Do journalists require licensing? Perhaps they need an NMLS system like they did for the mortgage industry. State licensing standards, annual licensing requirements including ethics.

      1. No. Then Tucker would not be ‘licensed’ nor Turley.

        The First Amendment is the only license anyone needs.

        1. The First Amendment is the only license anyone needs.

          I’m not suggesting anyone without a license loses their First Amendment rights. My point was to differentiate between those that would be “licensed” to provide “News” and everyone else. I was in the lending industry for 15 years. Prior to the mortgage meltdown, the lending business was like the wild, wild west. Caveat Emptor. I see the world of mass media similarly today. Places like CNN, FoxNews, NYTimes are like direct lenders and FB, Twitter, etc. and other aggregators are like brokers. They are basically unregulated and often protected from liability. It’s not easy for consumers to determine what is news and what is opinion. Ideally, regulations would be in place that would require those “reporting the news” (straight facts) to be easily differentiated from those “reporting their opinion of the news.” So it’s doesn’t restrict their speech, they would not be able to call it “news.”

      2. “State licensing . . .”

        Of the press?! So that the same tyrants who ban “misinformation” can control the press?!

        The government’s power to license is the power to control, to extort, and to destroy.

          1. I agree with both of you. In this political climate, there is no way it would achieve that idealistic goal. The mortgage meltdown affected nearly everyone, the media meltdown on the other hand is largely working against conservatives. If the Democrats succeed in “outsourcing” the infringement of rights to non-government entities, then expect the 2nd amendment to follow what they are doing with the 1st.

  7. It’s the same mistake everyone makes when they say Fox this or MSNBC that. No one, not even the “journalists” themselves seem to know the difference between a journalist and an opinion writer/broadcaster. Hannity, Reed, even JT himself are in the opinion business. That’s what they get paid for. Journalists, on the other hand come on the top of the hour and tell me “today a plane crashed” or tell me about a flood or something.

    That’s why no news channel is worth watching much more than 5 after the hour. I don’t need to be told what to think, just what happened.

  8. Jim (Rules of Journalism) Lehrer is sadly spinning in his grave . . .

  9. If a journalist sees their role as an activist, then I want that writer/producer to explicitly come out and expound on their reformist/revolutionary goals, so that their objectives are open to inspection and debate. What I revile to is the activist who hides their goals, harbors unanalyzed prejudices, wallows in vaguely-defined narratives, and then commits zealous infowarfare based on them. That activist-journalist lacks integrity and courage.

    Hannah-Jones refuses to take accountability for factual errors, and deflects all criticism like a 6-year-old child does: “It’s not what I’m saying, it’s that you hate me”. Being so alienated, she has difficulty finding common ground with her critics.

  10. “all journalism is activism.”

    Hannah-Jones is a faithful practitioner of CRT. Here she is using CRT’s gimmick of “counter-storytelling” — i.e., create a myth, fabricate a fiction, then pass it off as “history,” “journalism,” whatever you want. It’s the wicked notion that racial animus shapes and alters reality.

    1. Sam: “It’s the wicked notion that racial animus shapes and alters reality.”
      The danger is that it is going to if they keep this up. What happens if the anti-white attacks leads them to go tribal and shift loyalty from America to the tribe? Many likely will not even realize it has happened to them until they are shocked to wake up and realize their automatic “Coexist” talk doesn’t match how they feel. But however they may talk, how they feel will match their decisions.

  11. The real problem with Hannah-Jones is that she is delusional. She was fed BS in college and is as racist as they come. She’s not even black, she’s a mulatto whose father was a Mississippi black who went north and carried his racial hatred with him. Like Coates and the other black editorialist, she was raised in racism. None of them know anything other than how to harp on race.

    1. So true! When born and bred a RACIST, when created and raised a VICTIM … Drivel from their pens (and, now, PCs).

  12. She’s actually doing us a favor by saying out loud what editors and journalists have been practicing for decades. Think back to the NYTimes and WaPo’s “news” articles about WMDs, Trump-Putin collusion, Hunter Biden, etc. All partisan stories that were eventually “outed,” but not before they had their desired impact in brainwashing the liberal mind. We can find parallels on the right, but they have always been publicly criticized, whereas what the left says is assumed to be “truth.” So, no more guessing — the cat is out of the bag. Most Hannah-Jones-type journalists aren’t much good at investigating facts anyway — they are igmorant of history so prefer to go for the easy emotional appeal of “activism.” And Postmodernism did away with facts and “Truth” a long time ago anyway. Welcome to distopia.

    1. Giconi says: “She’s actually doing us a favor by saying out loud what editors and journalists have been practicing for decades. ”
      Beat me to it.

  13. So that implies given today’s journalism that all journalists are communists. One would like to believe that professionalism isn’t dead, but it certainly seems to be. Do any of these so called journalists spend any time talking to the people of say, Cuba or Venezuela?

  14. The transition of journalist from reporter of facts to activist correlates well with the perception of the profession by the public moving from respected to loathed.

  15. This is but a small piece of a larger picture. The left has been waging an insidious war on the entire concept of objective truth. One’s sex is a fiction; math is racist; and on and on. The result is anarchy which inevitably leads to totalitarianism which is the goal they had to begin with

  16. Propaganda disguised as journalism; that is all one needs to know about 21st Century American Journalism. Ms. Jones is nothing but an update of Goebbels and she and her contemporaries are no less pernicious

  17. Music
    Hanna Jones was her name…
    She rode off with Robert E. Lee!

  18. The free press has “opinion” pieces which are distinct from news articles. Opinion pieces are labelled as such. This dumb itchBay doesn’t know the distinction. We should call her “Op Ed Fred”.

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