Hussman prints these four values into each of the 10 daily newspapers he owns. They will now be chiseled into the entry of Carroll Hall, which houses UNC’s journalism school. Hussman said he discussed the integration of these values into the journalism school with Dean Susan King to combat the rising levels of opinion in news reporting.
King agreed with this and decided to incorporate Hussman’s values into the school. Hussman hopes this will set an example for other journalism schools, especially at a time when belief that biases exists in the media is high, according to a 2018 Knight Foundation/Gallup poll.
“Basically, that was one of the main motivating values is really to sort of plant a flag in the ground and say, ‘You know, there’s a major journalism school in America that advocates for these core values for journalism,’” he said. “And I hope by UNC doing that, maybe some other journalism schools will follow their lead. And I think if they do, we’re going to start making some progress to try to reestablish trust with the American people.”
The separation of opinion and news reporting is an important teaching of the journalism school, King said. She said blurring these lines has negatively impacted the trust people have in the media.
“We’ve got to be fair brokers in our society,” she said. “There’s a place for opinion and there are journalism facts, and he believes that some of the trust with the audience has frayed because journalists sometimes mix those two — opinion and facts — in a way that the public doesn’t know what to believe.”
Another challenge to the school, King said, is that decreases in the financial health of North Carolina can result in cuts that could make UNC’s journalism department fall behind other schools. She said part of her goal as dean was to make the school more financially independent.
“I wanted to make sure the school wasn’t just dependent on the financial health of the state or the wishes of the Board of Governors,” she said.
The $25 million gift, she said, will help the school meet this goal and make improvements in areas including faculty salaries, recruiting and opportunities for students. Charlie Tuggle, the school's senior associate dean for undergraduate studies, said the gift, in addition to the rest of the money the school has raised as a campaign, will help it grow and hire additional faculty to teach more students.
Tuggle said part of the significance of the gift is that it comes from a family that made its money in the journalism field.
“It’s like, ‘You don’t make money in journalism,’ right?” he said. “That’s sort of the thinking. But whether you make money, or become wealthy, or you just make a decent living — which was my situation — what an industry to be part of.”
This is the largest single gift the school has ever received — topping the $10 million of the $21 million Curtis Foundation donation that went to the journalism school in 2018.
Hussman left the name of the school open to be hyphenated in the future if a partner makes another gift of similar size. King said this is an act of generosity that could allow the school to get more funding in the future — just one reason why she is excited to have his name on the school.
“To have a man of such stature across the country — a man who has made his life in the media industry and has nothing but respect — choose our school as the one he’d like to bear his name, that is beyond an honor,” King said. “I’m speechless.”