Public TV network lowers its journalism shield

Troubling “Shield Law” incident in North Carolina as a legislative committee subpoenas raw, unaired footage from the state-funded UNC-TV public television network about a story involving the environmental record of aluminum giant Alcoa and its efforts to get re-licensed for a federal permit to run a hydro-dam on the Yakin River.

While North Carolina has a “Shield Law” that protects journalists, attorneys for UNC-TV aren’t sure it covers work that received tax funding and turned over the video to a state Senate committee.

This might be a wrinkle that hasn’t been fully considered by proponents of public funding options to support journalism. A lot of investigative journalism is being done not only by public television, but by public radio stations owned by state univeristies and funded in part by tax dollars.

Andria Krewson raises that and other questions and has a good set of links to the coverage so far.

Surprised RTNDA, SPJ and the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press haven’t weighed in vocally on this one (If they have, they’re not touting it on their websites).

Tip: Great interactive map of state journalism “Shield Laws” in the United States.