Nikole Hannah-Jones issued the following statement on Tuesday after revealing on “CBS This Morning” that she will not be joining the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill:Since I was a kid watching Tar Heels basketball on TV, I’ve admired the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2001, I learned that not only was I admitted to UNC’s master’s degree in journalism, but I was also awarded a full-tuition Park Fellowship. I laughed gleefully. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have the opportunity to study journalism at an institution I had long admired.
I lived at Carroll Hall for essentially the next two years, and spent more time there than anywhere else, including in my apartment. I spent countless hours in that building, studying, working at the Park Library, soaking up the acumen of journalism as well as its ethics and mandate – sitting in the offices of professors, from the many eclectic instructors who charmed me with their stories and liked. Chuck Stone and Harry Amana guided my steps. In the master’s program, I met one of my dearest friends, who later became my daughter’s godmother.
UNC took on a woman with a will but no experience in journalism and laid the groundwork for what I would become. And Carolina has been very kind to me over the years, inviting me to deliver the Journalism School commencement speech in 2017, awarding me the Young Alumnus Award in the same year and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2019, and joining me in North Carolina Media did. . Hall of Fame last year.
I have tried to back the institution through the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which I co-founded, and by regularly giving lectures and meeting with students, advising and helping students . As a result, when Dean Susan King first mentioned the idea of me coming to teach at the institute a few years ago, I was ecstatic. I told him I couldn’t consider it because I was a full-time reporter for The New York Times and had no plans to leave.
On the other hand, those who know Dean King know that he is a determined man who never shied away from the bigger picture. He offered me the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Reporting last year. Our society was going through a racial reckoning, and they discussed how important information, training, historical awareness, and depth of journalism are needed to cover a changing country and its difficulties for the next generation of journalists. She said that Carolina was going through its own racial reckoning, that its leadership was dedicated to meaningful change, and that she thought I could help.
I knew it would be a difficult balancing act to continue working as an investigative reporter while teaching, but I couldn’t miss the security and academic freedom of tenure that came with the Knight Chair in Carolina and the chance to return to my alma. Institute. After seriously considering her offer, the prospect of returning to Carolina and formalizing the mentoring and teaching I had been doing for years, seemed too compelling to pass up. I said yes, and then, like everyone else in Carolina who has been awarded the Knight Chair, I began the lengthy tenure process.