UND Journalism Professor Says He Couldn’t Do #NoDAPL Seminar Because of Potential Political Backlash


Atwood Journalism Chair Mark Trahant poses for a photo outside of the Professional Studies Building on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota, but he won’t be any more at the end of his current term.

According to social media postings, Mr. Trahant has decided to step down at the end of his three year stint saying he’s “disappointed and disgusted” that the university prevented him from holding a seminar focusing on journalism at the #NoDAPL protests:

Trahant’s accusations here are serious.

His politics skew pretty far left, as a glance at his blog shows us, but academics shouldn’t fear political backlash when going about their business whatever their politics.

If there actually would be backlash. Who knows if that was a risk, or just rumor mongering from the left-of-center hothouse that is the academic world.

I do wonder – with vast swaths of the electorate seeing the press as overwhelmingly liberal – if it’s a good idea to have someone so clearly left of center teaching journalism at our public universities.

Would it be valid for the Legislature, or anyone else, to be critical of discussion on the #NoDAPL protests and they way they were covered that was one sided? Are the taxpayers under any obligation to fund the work of an academic who has so clearly picked a side in the war over pipelines?

Trahant, per what he’s posted on the internet, has clearly picked a side. I don’t think it’s unfair to describe that as problematic.

I’m going to check in with UND on this and will update the post with more when I know it. I’ve also extended an offer for an interview to Mr. Trahant.