Advocacy Journalism 101: UNC Dean Asked ABC To “Protect” Hannah-Jones in its Coverage

We have been discussing the long saga over the University of North Carolina’s offering an academic chair to former New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones. Hannah-Jones is one of the most prominent proponents of advocacy journalism and her writings, including as part of the 1619 Project, are highly controversial. Ultimately, Hannah-Jones turned down the UNC offer in favor of Howard University. However, an email triggered a new controversy at UNC after it was disclosed that UNC Journalism and Media Dean Susan King wrote to ABC to expressly ask them to “protect” Hannah-Jones in its coverage. It is an ironic and concerning email. Many of us are critics of advocacy journalism and the growing rejection of objectivity. In this matter, King responded to criticism of Hannah-Jones over advocacy journalism by asking ABC Deputy Political Director Averi Harper to advocate for her in framing the coverage.

There is no indication that Harper responded by saying that, as a journalist, she is not tasked with protecting favored individuals in coverage. However, the request from the dean of the UNC shows how casual journalism professors have become with these ethical lines between reporting and advocacy.

According to documents acquired by the site Campus Reform, Harper emailed King in May, to ask why Hannah-Jones had not been granted tenure. King responded “She deserves tenure. Her package is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. Protect Nikole. She deserves it and I’m doing all I can to make this right. We really want her here.” King previously worked for ABC.  She also sit on the BBC Board.

King has a stellar background in journalism and I certainly do not fault her for defending the candidate chosen by her faculty for an appointment. Indeed, I raised academic concerns about political interference on such questions.

We can disagree on the academic credentials of Hannah-Jones and the scholarly values of the 1619 Project, which has been challenged by historians on critical assertions (like claiming that the Revolution was really fought to preserve slavery).  However, King received an inquiry from a journalism and felt entirely comfortable asking her to actively support the subject of the story as an ally in the controversy.

This story broke as National Public Radio crossed the Rubicon on ethics and announced that its reporters will now be allowed to participate in protests. We also recently discussed the firing of Lauren Wolfe, who was fired for saying that she had “chills” in watching Biden land at Andrews Air Force base. Wolfe later penned a column declaring “I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That” — a full-throated endorsement of the new journalistic model of open bias and advocacy.

We now have actual journalism deans writing to reporters for them to be advocates to protect the subjects of news stories. The move is consistent with the writing fo Stanford journalism professor Ted Glasser who insists 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.”

The question is who will be left to “protect” journalism. The abandonment of the tradition of neutrality for reporters will hasten the decline of American journalism.  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.

28 thoughts on “Advocacy Journalism 101: UNC Dean Asked ABC To “Protect” Hannah-Jones in its Coverage”

  1. ANTITHESIS OF THE “1619 PROJECT”

    This descendant of illegal aliens, consequently an illegal alien herself, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and her ilk must be summarily deported. The status of slaves in America was transformed from “property” to “illegal alien” under the Naturalization Act of 1802 upon the issuance of the unconstitutional emancipation proclamation in 1863. A crucial paradox is the fact that the Israelite slaves were out of Egypt before the ink was dry on their release papers; the Israelite slaves possessed the capacity, gumption and acumen for endeavor and self-reliance, in stark contrast to immutably innate parasitism.

    Nikole Hannah-Jones, through her notorious, extremist, subversive and seditious “1619 Project,” is demonstrably in league with America’s known enemies, “…adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort…” and, thereby, committing capital treason against the United States, not dissimilar to the perfidy of Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg. Americans, actual and non-hyphenated, this is the face of the enemy; this is the direct and mortal enemy of America.
    __________________________________________

    Wait!

    It looks like the slaves freed by Lincoln,

    Must have been deported by law.

    Oops!
    _____

    January 1, 1863

    By the President of the United States of America:

    A Proclamation.

    Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

    “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

    “That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”

    Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

    Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

    And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

    And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

    And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

    And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

    In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

    Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

    By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
    _________________________________

    United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” March 26, 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application to any common law Court of record in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law to support the Constitution of the United States, which Oath or Affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such Application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a Citizen of the United States. And the children of such person so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens: Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: Provided also, that no person heretofore proscribed by any States, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an Act of the Legislature of the State in which such person was proscribed.

  2. What it all boils down to is that they are going to tell you what you can see or think. Somehow they believe this is a moral thing to do. You will listen to the high priests and you will listen to nothing else. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. The new high priests will only shake the dust from their feet when you are part of it.

  3. The major monopoly newspapers in North Carolina (including the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer) absolutely refused to publish letters to the editor pointing out that:

    * NHJ has never taught a college course
    * NHJ does not hold a terminal degree (Ph.D or similar)
    * the UNC Personnel website lists a “three year teaching transcript” as a requirement for tenure candidates. Of course, NHJ has no teaching experience.
    * the website also mentions a requirement for “at least two letters of recommendation” from “academic peers at R1 (top tier) research universities. Having never taught, she has no academic peers
    * the white male Dean of the UNC Law School – Martin Brinkley – has taught at UNC for five years and obviously holds a J.D. terminal degree. He was just denied tenure at UNC.

    1. Don’t have time to “vet” your comment,-but if it is truthful/vetted, then BRAVO to you for sharing with readers

  4. Was it a request to go easy on Hannah- Jones or was it a command. Was it a subtle reminder that you too can be cancelled. How is it the business of a college dean to tell a news source how it should cover a story or an individual. When your making new rules you have to make sure that everyone will comply. Dean King says it’s a morals thing. What part don’t you understand?

  5. We used to call it editorialization – i.e. ‘opinions’ (sometimes even referred to as the ‘Opinion Section) and there is nothing wrong with editorials. To make all journalism editorialization and call it ‘journalism’ is indeed a warping of the entire mindset. Technology has played a role – the kids that write almost exclusively now for outlets like the NYT and control CNN grew up with the blogosphere and social media. The networks and publishers were getting hammered and initially did all of this to compete. This is where we’ve ended up. They know exactly what they are doing, it is very much intentional, and they simply don’t care about or understand the ramifications that ripple across society in totality. This is not sustainable.

    1. Newnanfrisbee, the discussion is about the growth of slanted journalism. The concern that must follow is whether we can any longer trust the news and the best that you can do is worry about a misspelling. If you can’t say something smart don’t say nuthin at all. Misspelling by design.

  6. One of the fundamental tenets of controlling a mass of people is information. People sometimes laugh at the gullibility of those who join cults or how a nation such as Germany could fall for an ideal. Information. It is easier than one thinks. It is how information is presented and how much is given.

    Propaganda is a mixture of truth and untruths carefully framed.

    Picture a frail elderly man casually walking down a sidewalk. In the next frame you see a strong younger man, tattoos, rumpled clothing and unkempt hair run at him and tackle him to the ground. STOP!

    What is your impression? A crime was committed?

    Rewind. Pan out to a wide angle view. Replay. Now we see a crane hoisting a pallet of bricks. The cable is unwinding and snaps just above the head of the older man. The young man sees the situation and acts quickly. He runs as fast as possible and pushes the elderly man to the ground—saving his life.

    It is all about perspective. It is about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    If the cult leader, government officials or activists cannot stop opposing information, the best next thing is to attack the validity of the opposing sources of information or create diversions. Go after them with both guns blazing. Make them radioactive.

    People need to be taught how to recognize and critically analyze information, recognize its strengths and weaknesses and call BS on poorly written or subversive information. What irony. We are drowning in information yet finding truth is more difficult. The best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google.

    Caveat Emptor.

  7. As consumers of news, it has always been our job to determine who we listen to.

    We used to pick people like Dan Rather because he brought a kind of avuncular gravitas to his broadcasts. Then we found out that he also lied like a rug.

    As we get older and wiser, we learned to avoid certain brands: CNN, MSNBC, etc.

    Lefties, because they like to be lied to, chose those very brands.

    Just means (as it should be) that we need to do our homework.

  8. Jonathan “Fox News” Turley wonders:

    “The question is who will be left to “protect” journalism. The abandonment of the tradition of neutrality for reporters by NPR will hasten the decline of American journalism. 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.”

    Fox News will protect American journalism! After all, Hannity often admits that he is not a journalist! Shep Smith, one of the few journalists at Fox, abandoned the network on account of the lack of neutrality! I suppose you, Turley, will protect us from advocacy journalism by chastising all your Fox colleagues to maintain the core principles that sustain journalism? Right!

    You have no moral standing to complain about the decline of journalism while working at Fox! Seriously, Turley, who do you think you are fooling? Please be neutral yourself by leveling the same criticism at Fox, Newsmax, and OAN. Stop being a hypocrite!

    1. Jeff, in your lame attempt to “get” Turley you quote Hannity as saying that he is not a journalist that he is an opinions person, as if that is a bad thing. The point I am making is that there are OPINION sides of newspapers and tv news and that is as it should be, but when the NY Times and CNN and PBS say that NEWS should be biased we have a problem. The Times has opinion writers but it is news when their news folks admit to wanting an end to objective reporting. Guys like Don Lemon claim to be NEWSMEN, not opinion.

      Jeff calls Turley Fox as if that is the end of an argument. Fox actually has some news people on their network, not biased little fools like Chuck Todd and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor.

      1. MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the liberal media also lie by ignoring news that would harm their liberal narrative. Where was the reporting of BLM riots in 2020? CNN could only muster the nerve to say they were “mostly peaceful protests,” as fires from Molotov cocktails raged in the backlground. FOX had better and more honest coverage of the riots than any liberal echo chamber. All CNN could do throughout 2020 was rant about Trump. FOX actually had critical articles about him, but didn’t fall into obsessive anti-Trump derangement. Now we see Biden adopting some of Trump’s border policies, after tearing them up on his first day in office. Where’s the screeching liberal media now? And where is their coverage of the border crisis? If you want to know what CNN and the liberal media aren’t telling the public, read their competition.

      2. HullBobby,

        Why should the hosts at MSNBC and CNN be any less opinionated than the vast majority at Fox? I watch both Fox and MSNBC. I don’t recall hearing the MSNBC prime time hosts claim that they are acting as journalists.

        And if viewers get their facts from opinion hosts, and the opinion shows are all they watch, then that is where viewers will get their “news.” There is no clear distinction anymore between News and opinion. That’s a fact at both Fox and MSNBC.

        1. Nice try Jeff but the point is that there is a news division and an opinion side and when the left starts demanding that news me skewed by opinion we see what we have seen, the destruction of trust for today’s news media.

          You say that you watch Fox and CNN and that the “vast majority” at Fox are conservative, but show me even one CNN staffer who is not a liberal. Also, it is Cuomo, Lemon, Tapper et all that are claiming to be news people and they are BIASED. We have “fact checkers” at CNN that are BIASED. Where is the CNN version of Chris Wallace or Howard Kurtz? In fact Kurtz is actually left leaning, as is Wallace.

          The difference between Fox and CNN can be shown by the example of their two shows that look at the media, “Reliable Sources” on CNN with Stelter and the Howie Kurtz show.

          1. I don’t watch CNN. I said I watched MSNBC. The destruction of trust in the News is thanks to Trump calling them the “enemy of the people.” Fox started the trend to break down the wall between the News and opinion. It can’t complain when their competition follows suit. This is the future, like it or not, opinionated News.

      3. Hullbobby

        Well said.

        Seems that the Lefties all have the same talking points.

        Jeff thinks that he landed a devastating blow by adding “Fox News” to Turley’s name.

        Jeff doesn’t realize that most of us judge Turley as a complete person.

        But that is the Lefty way: condemn someone based on a small facet of their lives.

        1. Monument, please keep contributing to this site, your comments are always on point, logical and correct. It is folks like Jeff, EB and Natacha who will comment with off point remarks, personal attacks and far left diatribes and then they will rip into Turley as if they are being held here against their will. People like you and me won’t go to a site we disagree with, attack the host and basically scream at the other people commenting. When I abhor an outlet, say CNN for example, I ignore it or I check it out to see how bananas it has gotten. When the left watches Fox they call the sponsors to try to get the network or a show banned. They will be highly critical of Turley and the good professor allows them to attack him as he proves his consistency regarding free speech.

    2. Agreed. Not only is the horse out of the barn but the barn has burned down. The time to complain about this move was probably the mid-90s when Fox was launched. We’ve seen whole networks denying reality and you’re complaining about advocacy journalism. Too late dude. Where were you two decades ago.

    3. Jeff S obsesses over Fox News. Fox News this, Fox News that. Pretty much the only network that isn’t slanted upside down to support leftist/Commie views. Give it a rest. Nobody cares what you bleat about Fox News.

      1. I care that Jonathan Turley is working at Fox, and that is all that matters. If my exposing his hypocrisy makes you feel *uncomfortable* then I suggest you skip over my comments. This blog is not a safe zone for you Trumpists who get easily triggered.

      1. Thinkitthrough,

        I never stated that Jonathan “Fox News” Turley never had such a history. That was then, this is now. I prefer to live in the present. It’s not only me on this blog who are aware of Turkey’s hypocrisy. I hope that my opinions- I’m not a journalist by the way- will convince more….

  9. Where are the protectors of the profession of journalism? Academics like Turley, civilians like me can only do what we do. Journalism must save its own profession.

    1. Really where have you been for the last 20 years as Fox News has made an art of this stuff?

      1. You must be young. I was only a teenager for the Viet Nam conflict. I missed the draft by one year. But even as a 16 year old, obsessed with cars and girls, I could see the media setting the narrative of the execution of the military operations. The heavy hitters in the “news” business admit readily their goal was to use visuals and selective “reporting” to swing public opinion against the military. And the politicians that voted to support the Troops.
        You can go back to the seventies and re watch all the 60 Minutes shows, and dissect all the questions never examined, and all the conclusions lacking facts.

  10. While I enjoy reading Hunter Thompson, one gonzo journalist a generation is enough. If this persists, perhaps some changes are needed in how the Courts treat opinion masqueraded as news.

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