When Rhonda Winters, director of the Archdale campus of Randolph Community College, decided to offer an adult, community outreach course on the Civil War in North Carolina, she couldn't have imagined the storm of political correctness she was setting into motion and the nightmare it would bring. The course was almost finished, and the students were enjoying it immensely, when a controversy-seeking reporter for the News & Record of Greensboro, who had entered the class without permission, clashed with instructors and students and wrote an article falsely claiming that the course was teaching that slaves in the South were happy. Picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted worldwide, the article brought a barrage of vituperative news coverage and vilification to the college. Although students, instructors and college officials protested that the newspaper's sensational claims never happened, News Record editors insisted that its articles were fair and accurate--even after evidence indicated otherwise. The articles resulted in branding the college, students and instructors as riacist, and brought about an investigation by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the cancellation of the course. In this engrossing, moving, and frightening account, national award-winning journalist and New York Times #1 bestselling author Jerry Bledsoe takes readers into the class to show what actually happened and behind the scenes as college officials, students, and instructors attempted to deal with the crisis. But more than that, it tells the story of an honorable man, Jack Perdue, the course instructor, a local historian and preservationist, who died during the controversy. A man whom family, friends and students believe was destroyed by the news media. Death by Journalism? raises important questions about free speech, academic freedom, political correctness, racial politics, and integrity of the news media. It should be required reading for journalism students.
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