Letter to the Editor published on the News & Observer website on December 2, 2016.
December 1, 2016
Attention: The People’s Forum
There’s a practice in journalism: any story with the words “may” or “might” in the headline isn’t really a story. Dan Kane’s story about Eric Hoots (“How UNC basketball’s academic aide may be connected to bogus classes Nov. 1”) fits that rule to a T.
Some key facts about Hoots’ responsibilities were omitted. Hoots is a liaison with the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes and has no counseling or academic responsibilities – and never has. To be clear, we provided Kane that information but he left it out.
Kane’s story implies the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a mere formality that we “could” ignore and easily provide him with a student’s academic information. He knows better. We can’t. It’s a federal privacy law to protect the rights of all students.
Professional newspapers don’t have to resort to innuendo because they have facts to back up what they publish. The News & Observer didn’t. Yet again, Kane was allowed to write his own narrative instead of reporting the facts. The final word on this story should be Kane’s apology to Eric Hoots.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill