Editorials

Is new N.C. governor Roy Cooper making an old mistake with media?

The Observer editorial board

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announces the selection of Machelle Sanders to lead the Department of Administration and Tony Copeland to lead the Department of Commerce at a press conference Thursday in Raleigh.
N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announces the selection of Machelle Sanders to lead the Department of Administration and Tony Copeland to lead the Department of Commerce at a press conference Thursday in Raleigh. AP

Back in 2015, we criticized then-N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory for taking his disdain for media too far by blocking reporters from liberal N.C. Policy Watch from attending events open to other media. “What is he so afraid of?” we asked then.

Has new Gov. Roy Cooper been making similarly bad choices?

The conservative Carolina Journal, which is published by the John Locke Foundation, says that its reporters have been banned from covering the new governor’s news conferences. The publication was not able to cover the governor’s Dec. 15 news conference, and the report says email requests for notice and access to other events went unanswered.

Cooper spokesman Ford Porter told the (Raleigh) News & Observer on Thursday that no one is being frozen out of news conferences or events, and if any reporter has been denied access, it was an “oversight.” On that same day, however, Carolina Journal reporters didn’t receive notice of a Cooper news conference about new cabinet secretaries.

As we said back in 2015, the media landscape has changed, and there are legitimate questions about how to treat advocacy groups – which are plentiful in this digital age. Although neither N.C. Policy Watch nor Carolina Journal is credentialed by the Capitol Press Corps, reporters from each group have covered news conferences held by governors and legislative leaders. Shutting out some of those reporters while opening the door to others looks bad, then and now.

Cooper and his staff might have unintentionally done so with the Carolina Journal, but he should be very intentional moving forward about welcoming all the press, including members with whom he might have a beef.

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