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UNC-TV relationships with major donors

The Investigations blog posted a piece today about UNC-TV giving special treatment to donors, linking to a story in today's N&O about the relationship between UNC-TV and the Golden LEAF Foundation. According to the story by N&O reporter Lynn Bonner, Golden LEAF gives large grants to UNC-TV and in return, UNC-TV creates favorable programming about them.

You can read Bonner's story here

UNC-TV: News, Information or Advertising?

Our colleague Lynn Bonner has a first-rate story on the relationships between UNC-TV and the Golden LEAF Foundation: Golden LEAF gives UNC-TV six-figure grants, and UNC-TV runs favorable stories on Golden LEAF.

This is not the first story on UNC-TV's favorable coverage of its funders. Back in 2000, UNC-TV ran a series of shows promoting the UNC system's $3.1 billion bond referendum. That promotion stuck in the craw of some of the news staff at UNC-TV, like former North Carolina Now anchor Marita Matray. 

" 'North Carolina Now' is not geared to benefit the general public, but a small target audience - trustees, lawmakers and university people," Matray told The N&O. "Very often we were forced to do stories that would benefit those few people who could affect the budget of UNC-TV. I always felt like a hypocrite."

Generally speaking, if a news organization has a financial relationship with the subject of a story, the news organization should disclose the relationship and include contrary or critical perspectives in the story.

That's Journalism Ethics 101. In 2001 and 2010, UNC-TV executives responded to the conflict of interest question with the same response: UNC-TV is "an information provider" and not a news organization.



UNC-TV Promoted Its Funding Source in 2001

Departures raise questions about UNC-TV
The News & Observer
Monday, September 10, 2001

By Bill Krueger and Joseph Neff , STAFF WRITERS

With 11 transmitters blanketing the state, the reach of UNC-TV is vast. Almost anyone with a television in North Carolina can see what the state's public station is showing. UNC-TV can be a powerful way to get out news about the legislature, elections or natural disasters.

Or to promote the station's owner - the University of North Carolina system.

Several of the station's journalists - the people who report and produce UNC-TV's nightly news program, "North Carolina Now," or the weekly "Legislative Week in Review" - have left the station in the past two
years. They say they left, in part, because they felt that General Manager Tom Howe had turned UNC-TV into a cheerleader for the university system.

" 'North Carolina Now' is not geared to benefit the general public, but a small target audience - trustees, lawmakers and university people," said Marita Matray, a former "North Carolina Now" anchor who worked at UNC-TV for six years until August 2000.

"Very often we were forced to do stories that would benefit those few people who could affect the budget of UNC-TV. I always felt like a hypocrite." Matray now works for a Fox television affiliate in Cincinnati.

"The Vaccine War" ponders public health versus personal choice

Not a Gleek? Then tune in to UNC-TV for a very interesting Frontline episode "The Vaccine War" (9 tonight).

It's a clear-headed, one-hour look at the debate surrounding vaccine safety. That debate is between parents and activists (and parent activists) and the public health community. There are the parents who are opting out of vaccinations for fear that they are excessive and unnecessary, and the parents who believe there is a link between vaccinations and disorders like autism.

Scientists, on the other hand, say that the studies show those links don't exist and worry about the re-introduction of long dormant or preventable diseases at rates no longer seen.

What to Watch on Wednesday: American Idol Gives Back

American Idol: Idol Gives Back (8pm, Fox) - One contestant is eliminated in this 2-hour benefit special raising money for U.S. and global charities such as Children's Health Fund, Save the Children, United Nations Fund, and Feeding America. "Idol" and its fans have raised more than $140 million over the past few years. Performances tonight by Carrie Underwood, Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Joss Stone, and Annie Lennox. Emceed by Queen Latifah. There's also rumored to be a very $pecial $urprise in store from Bill Gates.

Food Inc (9pm, UNC-TV) - PBS's Point of View (P.O.V.) series debuts season 23 tonight with a special broadcast of the controversial documentary on how the practices of the U.S. food industry impact our health and the environment. Check out our review (Adrienne may be eating food again by now). Stay tuned for a special UNC-TV program airing immediately afterward ("Views on Food Inc") in which parties involved in the food industry in North Carolina comment on points raised in the film. 

Law & Order: SVU (10pm, NBC) -  Speaking of powerful corporate food entities, Olivia goes undercover tonight to investigate the murder of a young woman who had been in the process of exposing questionable practices in the meat-packing industry.

In Plain Sight (10pm,USA) - Steven Weber guest stars in an episode in which Mary and Marshall try to convince an FBI informant to join WITSEC.

The Locator (10pm, WeTV) - In the season finale, Troy Dunn helps a young soldier search for his biological father. 

"Food, Inc." will definitely spoil your appetite

After watching Food, Inc. (UNC-TV, 9pm Wednesday), I see the value of the adage "Ignorance is bliss."

Because now that I'm more familiar with our food supply, trips to the supermarket seem fraught with danger.

There's the fruit and vegetables ripened artificially. Or the oversized chicken breasts, cut from overbred chickens, pumped with antibiotics. And how about the chance that my choice cut of beef is contaminated.

You'll learn about all that and more in this powerful documentary that's easy to digest (hee hee) because it's simply and effectively told, using not just talking heads, but also clever graphics and personal stories.

Nova examines the "Big Energy Gamble"

Can California's ambitious push to cut down on greenhouse gases really succeed? That's the question PBS's Nova series takes on in tonight's feature, "The Big Energy Gamble."

The special looks at the environmental pros and possible economic cons of California's green initiative, which seeks to return the state's carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Earth Day documentary airs tonight on UNC-TV

UNC-TV is airing "Earth Days" tonight, a documentary tracking the modern environmental movement, beginning with the first Earth Day in 1970. Among those featured are biologist Paul Ehrlich ("Population Bomb"), Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, renewable energy visionary Hunter Lovins, and former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.

"Earth Days" airs tonight at 9pm on UNC-TV.

You can watch a clip of the documentary at the PBS website.

PBS's Charlie Rose to give commencement speech at NCSU

Charlie Rose, executive producer and host of the PBS interview show "Charlie Rose," will be giving the commencement address at NC State University next month.

UPDATE: The event is free and open to the public - no tickets required.

Rose is a native of Henderson, North Carolina, and a graduate of Duke. He has hosted "Charlie Rose" since 1991 and is also a correspondent for "60 Minutes" on CBS. Early in his career Rose won a Peabody award for a piece on soon-to-be president Jimmy Carter, and later won an Emmy for a televised interview with Charles Manson.

What to Watch on Monday: A sitcom debut and the "Damages" finale

Earth Days (9pm, UNC-TV) - A documentary tracking the modern environmental movement, beginning with the first Earth Day in 1970. Among the featured are biologist Paul Ehrlich ("Population Bomb") and former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. 

Trauma (9pm, NBC) - No one appreciates (or watches) this show, but I really like it. Tonight, Tyler's father comes to town for a visit and Glenn mines the crew for stories as he does research for his book. More Rabbit!!!

Romantically Challenged (9:30pm, ABC) - Following "Dancing with the Stars" (which is only 90 minutes tonight) is the debut of this new sitcom starring Alyssa Milano (right) as a lawyer and mother who struggles with the dating scene after the end of a 15-year marriage. If you can buy the premise that Alyssa Milano struggles with dating, then you're obviously a science fiction fan and probably not that into sitcoms anyway. Update: ABC has suddenly changed their game plan tonight and are not airing the first episode (which critics saw and pretty much hated). Instead, they are opening with a later episode. Not a good sign!

Damages (10pm, FX) - In a 90-minute season (please, just season, not series!) finale, we see how all that crazy mess involving the Tobins has really gone down. Who was beating on Tom in that seedy apartment? Why did he jump off that bridge? Will Leonard/Lester really turn on the Tobins? Why is Patty being haunted by a horse? This is going to be a good one. Things don't look great for the renewal of this fine show, so tonight could be our last frenetic dance with Patty Hewes...

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