UNC school name to add ‘Huss­man’

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Front Page - BILL BOW­DEN

The Huss­man fam­ily is giving $25 mil­lion to the jour­nal­ism school at the Univer­sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The school will be re­named the UNC Huss­man School of Jour­nal­ism and Me­dia, said Su­san King, the school’s dean.

It’s the largest do­na­tion in the jour­nal­ism school’s his­tory, King said.

“Ob­vi­ously, this is a ma

jor his­toric mo­ment for our school,” she said. “I think for jour­nal­ism to have some­one at this mo­ment of such cat­a­clysmic dis­rup­tion and lack of trust to say jour­nal­ism is so im­por­tant that he wants to in­vest in the fu­ture for the pipeline of great jour­nal­ists and me­dia lead­ers — that is the most op­ti­mistic thing I have felt in a long time. We are very, very ex­cited about this.”

The do­na­tion is be­ing made per­son­ally by the Huss­man fam­ily — Wal­ter E. Huss­man Jr., pub­lisher of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette; his wife, Ben Huss­man; son Palmer Huss­man; and daugh­ters Eliza Gaines and Olivia Ramsey.

Wal­ter Huss­man, who is also chair­man of WEHCO Me­dia, Inc., said none of the money is com­ing from com­pany funds.

“They are all 100% in fa­vor, which pleases me to see the fourth gen­er­a­tion of our fam­ily is so com­mit­ted to jour­nal­ism,” said Huss­man, re­fer­ring to his three adult chil­dren.

UNC has one of the best jour­nal­ism schools in the coun­try, said Huss­man, who grad­u­ated from that school in 1968 be­fore earn­ing a master’s in busi­ness from Co­lum­bia Univer­sity in 1970. Huss­man’s two daugh­ters and his sis­ter Mar­i­lyn Augur are all UNC grad­u­ates.

Huss­man said the main rea­son the do­na­tion is be­ing made is be­cause the UNC jour­nal­ism school has de­cided to en­dorse and adopt the state­ment of core val­ues pub­lished ev­ery day in all 10 of WEHCO Me­dia’s daily news­pa­pers, in­clud­ing the Demo­crat-Gazette.

Huss­man said he hopes other schools of jour­nal­ism will fol­low the lead of UNC with their own state­ments of core val­ues, as this could help re­store some of the pub­lic’s trust in news re­port­ing.

King said Huss­man drafted the core val­ues af­ter meet­ing with her one night in Fe­bru­ary 2017. When she read them, she said, she told him that they should be etched in stone. And they will be.

The core val­ues will be chis­eled into a stone wall in the lobby of Car­roll Hall, where the jour­nal­ism school is lo­cated, she said.

The First Amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion is al­ready dis­played in the lobby. It guar­an­tees, among other things, that Congress will make no law abridg­ing free­dom of the press.

The state­ment of core val­ues ap­pears on Page 2A of the Demo­crat-Gazette each day. The core val­ues in­clude im­par­tial­ity, cred­i­bil­ity and thor­ough­ness.

“To pro­vide the most com­plete re­port, a news or­ga­ni­za­tion must not just cover the news, but un­cover it,” Huss­man wrote in the core val­ues. “It must fol­low the story wher­ever it leads, re­gard­less of any pre­con­ceived ideas on what might be most news­wor­thy.”

The truth isn’t al­ways clear when re­porters be­gin work­ing on a story, wrote Huss­man. The role of jour­nal­ists is to “re­port as com­pletely and im­par­tially as pos­si­ble all ver­i­fi­able facts so that read­ers can, based on their own knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence, de­ter­mine what they be­lieve to be the truth.”

For some peo­ple, so­cial me­dia has blurred the lines be­tween news and opin­ion. Huss­man said the dif­fer­ence needs to be clearly de­lin­eated.

“When a news­pa­per de­liv­ers both news and opin­ions, the im­par­tial­ity and cred­i­bil­ity of the news or­ga­ni­za­tion can be ques­tioned,” he wrote in the core val­ues. “To min­i­mize this as much as pos­si­ble there needs to be a sharp and clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween news and opin­ion, both to those pro­vid­ing and con­sum­ing the news.”

“The pub­lic has lost trust in the me­dia in Amer­ica,” Huss­man said Mon­day. “To re-es­tab­lish that, I think peo­ple need to go back to th­ese core val­ues that re­ally were the bedrock of jour­nal­ism in our coun­try.”

“Jour­nal­ism is a no­ble pro­fes­sion,” he said in an email. “But some­thing is wrong when we see the pub­lic’s trust in the news me­dia at such a low level. Some politi­cians and even some in the news me­dia it­self reg­u­larly at­tack the ‘main­stream me­dia.’ There is lit­tle we can do when crit­i­cism comes from out­side our pro­fes­sion. But there is some­thing we can do by re-ex­am­in­ing our own stan­dards, prin­ci­ples and jour­nal­is­tic val­ues. We need to be hon­or­ing those time-tested best prac­tices, which had earned the trust and re­spect of the pub­lic over many decades.”

Besides adding the Huss­man name to the school, UNC will make another change to the name of its School of Me­dia and Jour­nal­ism.

“We’re hav­ing them re­v­erse that and put jour­nal­ism first,” Huss­man said. “Ev­ery­body was en­am­ored with the term ‘me­dia’ un­til ‘me­dia’ came to in­clude some­thing else — so­cial me­dia.”

Part of the rea­son for that change, said King, is that “the Huss­man name stands for jour­nal­ism.”

“That is his pas­sion,” she said. “At this mo­ment, many peo­ple may run the other way, but Wal­ter Huss­man and his fam­ily are run­ning straight to­ward the is­sues in sup­port­ing jour­nal­ism.”

King said the Huss­man fam­ily feels strongly that trust in the me­dia must be re­newed, adding that its sup­port is “a ral­ly­ing cry for deans across the coun­try.”

King said about 40% of the stu­dents at the UNC school are in jour­nal­ism and 60% are in the fields of ad­ver­tis­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions. But there are core cour­ses that all the stu­dents in the school must take to grad­u­ate, she said.

The Huss­man fam­ily has do­nated to the UNC jour­nal­ism school be­fore, in­clud­ing a $667,667 do­na­tion to es­tab­lish a pro­fes­sor­ship named for Wal­ter Huss­man Sr., the fa­ther of Wal­ter Huss­man Jr. Af­ter a match by the state, the pro­fes­sor­ship is now worth more than $1 mil­lion, King said.

The Huss­man fam­ily bought the Arkansas Demo­crat in 1974 and won a high-pro­file news­pa­per war against the Arkansas Gazette in 1991. Gan­nett shut down the Gazette, and Lit­tle Rock News­pa­pers Inc. bought the news­pa­per’s as­sets. Huss­man be­gan pub­lish­ing the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette the next day.

Huss­man has been con­vert­ing print sub­scribers to dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tions in all 63 coun­ties where the news­pa­per has tra­di­tion­ally been cir­cu­lated.

That doesn’t in­clude the 12 coun­ties served by the North­west Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette, which op­er­ates au­tonomously.

If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, the print edi­tion of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette will cease by the end of the year, ex­cept for Sundays, Huss­man said.

Huss­man is pro­vid­ing Ap­ple iPads to sub­scribers so they can read a replica of the news­pa­per on­line.

Huss­man Jr.

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