CJR’s Corey Hutchin keeps a wry eye on North Carolina legislation

How do you keep up with the approximately 1,700 bills pending in the North Carolina General Assembly? More particularly, how do you “keep up with the rapid pace of proposed legislation while deciding which measures merit devoted coverage and which to dismiss as hackery?”

Columbia Journalism Review writer Corey Hutchins riffs on the plethora of bills, mentioning Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle’s “gag bit in which he challenged passers-by on the street to “name the fake bill” (most folks could not distinguish the made-up measure from the real ones).”

Hutchins also queries North Carolina journalism on the challenges in covering state news, getting this musing admission:

“I think the hard part about it is trying to balance,” says Laura Leslie, capitol bureau chief of WRAL in Raleigh, the state’s leading station for political coverage. “There are crazy bills that get filed in every session under every kind of leadership. How much attention do you devote to those versus the ones that are actually going to move in committee?”

And for good measure, Hutchins queried “influential” blogger and “former Greensboro News & Record editor and a journalist in the state for 37 years,” John L. Robinson:

I caught up with Robinson over the phone recently and asked him what, exactly, he’d like to see from media in his home state. “What I think reporters for newspapers and TV stations … could do―and really provide a valuable service to the citizens of the state―is pull it all together and sort through what bills really have legs and which ones don’t, and then explain why so many crackpot bills are being introduced,” he said.

Those who have followed state politics for years may also appreciate Hutchins attempt to answer this question:

… why has a state with a fairly centrist history that’s solidly purple in presidential elections―narrowly for Obama in 2008, narrowly for Romney in 2012―gone so deep red in state elections? North Carolina is not a Deep South state, literally or culturally. And yet the current legislature and the laws being drafted are making the Tar Heel State look much more like its downstate neighbor South Carolina than its neighbor to the north, Virginia.

For more, go to cjr.org or click on the the link below. Hutchins also writes for the alt-weekly, Columbia, S.C., Free Times.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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