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by Keith Barber

News and views from inside the media bubble

VAJDA SPEAKS OUT ABOUT ALCOA DOCUMENTARY

UNC-TV senior legislative correspondent Eszter Vajda responded to harsh criticisms by members of the media after UNC-TV complied with a subpoena from the state Senate Judiciary II committee to turn over more than 200 hours of raw video footage. Vajda gathered the footage while producing a documentary about aluminum giant Alcoa’s operations on the Yadkin River. The Senate committee subpoenaed the film, portions of which aired two weeks ago on UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Now,” to show to its members before extensive questioning of Alcoa representatives on July 6. In a July 16 press release, Vajda acknowledged she felt “immense pressure” from both UNC-TV and the Senate committee to comply with the subpoena. Vajda responded to criticisms by the UNC School of Journalism regarding the accuracy of her reporting, challenging the school to conduct its own investigation into Aloca’s operations “to back up their wrong statements.” Vajda stated she has done a thorough job reviewing all the information she’s received from Alcoa, but “time after time answers to questions I presented left me with holes which didn’t add up,” Vajda said. During the July 6 Senate committee meeting, legislators grilled Alcoa officials regarding alleged PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl contamination of Badin Lake and the Yadkin River by its Badin Works operation. The state is currently petitioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to “recapture” the water rights to the 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River that includes the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project from Alcoa. — KTB

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