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Ida B. Wells Society relocates from UNC-Chapel Hill to Morehouse College

The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Journalism will relocate from UNC-Chapel Hill to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

The society, named for the pioneering Black investigative journalist, is dedicated to increasing and retaining reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting and promoting diverse voices in news organizations. It has been headquartered at UNC-Chapel Hill since  the fall of 2019. It was originally based at City University of New York’s Newmark School of Journalism before shifting to the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2018 and UNC-Chapel Hill a year later.

Nikole Hannah-Jones (Bell Tower photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The move comes after the controversy over the university’s board of trustees denying one of the society’s founders, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, a vote on tenure after the university courted her to join its faculty. The story, first reported by Policy Watch, generated international headlines. Intense pressure from students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as some of the top names in journalism from around the country, forced a tenure vote on the university’s board of trustees. Though the board ultimately offered her tenure, Hannah-Jones decided instead to take a position at Howard University. There she created the new Center for Democracy and Journalism at one of the nation’s most prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The university reached a settlement with Hannah-Jones last year.

“I am very excited to announce that Morehouse College will be the new home of the Ida B. Wells Society,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement released by Morehouse. “This partnership helps our young organization settle more deeply into our mission, which is to increase the number of investigative reporters of color. Being located on the campus of a historically Black college located in Atlanta in proximity to other HBCUs and coming to Morehouse just as it gets its journalism major off the ground provides a tremendous opportunity for us to increase our impact on the field and society.”

The society will now be based on Morehouse’s campus and will officially launch during an on-campus ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 16 with Hannah-Jones and co-founder Ron Nixon, an award-winning reporter for the Associated Press, alongside Morehouse journalism students, faculty, and staff.

In an email to faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school, Dean Raul Reis said the school was grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the society since 2019.

“Carolina is committed to an inclusive and equitable community for all,” Reis said in the Thursday e-mail. “We look forward to the future work of the Society and wish their team all the best.”

Last year the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) demoted UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media to “provisional” status, finding the school fell short of its standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The school was given two years to resolve the problem before officially losing its accreditation.