Censorship at WUNC

IPAS is a locally-based international women's health and reproductive rights organization. The following message came today:

IPAS has been sponsoring WUNC and we have a short announcement that is read on-air. Recently, WUNC decided that the phrase 'reproductive rights' which we use in our announcement was in violation of FCC regulations because it advocates for a particular position that is not universally endorsed. They admit that this is a conservative interpretation of the regulations, but nonetheless they will not let Ipas use this phrase in its on-air announcement.

I have been arguing with them to make the case that reproductive rights is not a euphemism for abortion and that, indeed, the whole point of rights is that they are universally held, e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I doubt that my arguments will be successful.

I know that many of you are supporters of WUNC and I think some questions from listeners on this policy might help open their eyes to this issue.

In Other News

Like many of you, I have been so wrapped up in the presidential horse race, it's been hard to pay attention to local issues lately. But lest these stories fall entirely through the cracks, here are a few notable news items from this week:

CHN 10/26/04: County sees increase in voter rolls
Due to overdue list cleanup, there are only 665 more voters registered in Orange County than we had in 2000, but there are 2,493 more voters registered as unaffiliated.

DTH 10/26/04: Businesses offer voting incentives
Local businesess are offerring deals for voters.

DTH 10/26/04: Town mulls building height
Carrboro continues the debate of 3 stories versus 5 stories, tries to buffer neighborhoods better.

WUNC notes

I heard that 'The State of Things' would be discussing local elections today at noon. Check it out, you can even call in during the show at 877-962-9862 (toll free).

I want to give a quick shout out to WUNC for finally archiving their shows online and adding an MP3 stream to their online broadcast. Both of these things make their programs more accessible, although it would also be nice if they would provide archives of some of their previous programs as well (hint).

I'm also glad to see that WUNC added a very insightful show, On Point to the daily schedule. If you are already paying a lot of attention to news and are growing tired of repetitive national headlines, this show offers a deeper listen into what's going on. I enjoyed their pre-debate analysis of the presidential candidates and interviews with fundamentalist christians at the GOP convention.

Are you partisan?

You'd think that with all the issues at stake in federal, state, and local issues, there would be no problem coming up with headlines. But today, the Chapel Hill News leads with Town politicians not shy about party loyalty.

The idea is that, since municipal offices are non-partisan, those who hold them should not wear political buttons reflecting their allegiances. I find this notion to be fairly ridiculous. After all, the oath of office does not require Town Council-members to foreswear their political allegiances. Nor should it.

Elected officials are indisputably highly engaged political actors. To suggest that they should hide their allegiances during strongly contested campaigns is unreasonable. For them to do so would hardly be possible.

Vaden leaving C.H. News

The Chapel Hill News is replacing long-time editor and publisher Ted Vaden with Brenda Larson ("business development analyst for The News & Observer's community newspapers") who will also act as the publisher of the Cary News. The loss of Vaden is bad in itself, but replacing him with someone who is not from Chapel Hill and won't be focused on Chapel Hill sounds like a disaster to me. I hope I'm wrong!

Before joining The N&O, Larson was director of new product development for York Region Newspaper Group, a group of Canadian community newspapers north of Toronto. In addition, she served as editor-in-chief for seven newspapers in that group, which is owned by Metroland.

Larson also will become publisher of The Cary News, another N&O community newspaper, and will split her time between Cary and Chapel Hill.



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