In an article about the lack of diversity on a public board, doesn’t it seem a news organization has a responsibility to get the race and gender of the members of that board correct?
The News & Observer ran an article on Saturday, July 3, under the headline, “New Trustees join UNC-Chapel Hill board. Will they bring the more diverse ideas students want?”
The article states, “The board that voted to approve tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones on Wednesday was made up of 10 white men, one Black man, one Black woman and one white woman. That was their last vote as a board.
“The incoming board is a bit more diverse with nine white men, two Black men, one Asian American man and one white woman.”
The problem is, that’s wrong. The N&O changed a black woman into a white man, which makes their argument stronger, but is incorrect. The correct diversity count for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees is eight white men, two black men, one Asian American man, one white woman and one black woman.
The article goes on to note that the new board has nine white males and continues to emphasize the lack of diversity.
The article was picked up by other news media, including the News & Record, and run with the same incorrect figures.
Marty Kotis, a Greensboro developer, is one of the new appointees to the UNC-CH Board of Trustees. Kotis tweeted, “Reading about the new @UNC Bot and find it strangely ironic that 4 major media outlets misstate the racial and gender makeup on the board by forgetting Trustee Teresa Artis Neal – an African American woman.
“@WRAL, @newsobserver @theobserver @NewsandRecord”
The article including the mistake was evidently picked up by both WRAL in Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer, giving it pretty wide distribution in the state.
The article actually includes a photo of Artis Neal along with other board members at the June 30 meeting.
According to the UNC-CH Board of Trustees website, Artis Neal was appointed to the board in 2019 and her term expires in 2023 meaning, that she has two more years on the board.