Aug 5, 2010

Complex UNC-TV story picks up even more plot twists

The already twisty-turny tale of UNC-TV turning over documents to a North Carolina General Assembly committee (Current, July 26) is becoming even more of a pretzel. Laura Leslie of WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, who's keeping close tabs on the ever-evolving mess of UNC-TV, Alcoa dams, and the state's reporter shield law, reports several very puzzling developments:

— Local commercial TV station WRAL — whose CEO, Jim Goodmon, vociferously opposed UNC-TV's decision, on July 27 filed a public records request of its own for the same documents from the station. Then Wednesday (Aug. 4) it withdrew the request, citing ... you guessed it, the state's reporter shield law, which Goodmon had insisted protected UNC-TV.

— Also yesterday, "just about every news outlet in Raleigh" was provided, by Alcoa, with an unpublished draft of a critique of two parts of the three-part series — now removed from the UNC-TV site, by the way — written by a panel of UNC journalism profs. UNC-TV had asked for the review, but then withdrew that request.

— Perhaps the strangest of all is just who provided that report to Alcoa: Hugh Stevens, Counsel Emeritus for the NC Press Association and immediate past president of the NC Open Government Coalition. He used, yes, a public records request, which he said UNC-TV had opened itself to by turning over the documents to lawmakers in the first place.

Leslie has links to all the various documents in her blog posting.

UPDATE: Welcome back to the ongoing adventures. Leslie checked with UNC-TV about the sudden disappearance of the series from its website and received this statement from a station rep: "We removed the videos that were posted on the North Carolina Now website yesterday (Aug. 4) because as 'point of view' pieces they are not representative of the typical content of North Carolina Now, and we concluded that it was no longer appropriate to distribute them through the site. " They're gone from YouTube as well, Leslie noted.

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