Governor keeps out certain eyes

The Observer editorial board

We know Gov. Pat McCrory doesn’t much like the news media (present company excepted, we’re sure), but lately he is going too far.

Twice in recent weeks the governor’s people have blocked reporters from the liberal N.C. Policy Watch from covering the governor’s events that are widely open to other media.

On Thursday, reporter Lindsay Wagner was escorted out of PNC Arena in Raleigh. She was there to cover McCrory’s remarks to the annual meeting of the N.C. Business Committee for Education. The event was listed on McCrory’s public schedule and other media outlets were there. She was told she was not invited, was escorted out by security and was not given a chance to talk to anyone with the governor’s office about it.

An online news site, Jones and Blount, was allowed to stay, which a governor’s spokesman said was a mistake.

Two weeks ago, another Policy Watch reporter, Sharon McCloskey, was barred from attending the governor’s press conference about pardoning two wrongly convicted prisoners. She was told that only reporters with Capitol Press Corps credentials would be admitted. But then a Wall Street Journal reporter with no such credential was admitted.

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis told Wagner after the episode with her that only those with credentials from the N.C. Association of Broadcasters, N.C. Press Association or Capitol Press Corps can attend many of the governor’s public events.

There are legitimate questions to be answered about how to handle media credentials in a new information age, when advocacy groups are a sizable part of the media landscape. And we get that N.C. Policy Watch criticizes McCrory regularly. But blacklisting certain reporters while letting others in makes the governor look bad. What is he so afraid of?

What’s Charlotte’s ‘brand’?

Last week, the Charlotte Chamber took the city’s mover-and-shaker set on its annual intercity fact-finding trip.

In Nashville, they discussed how Tennessee’s “Music City” leveraged its country roots into a bankable public relations bonanza. What about us, they asked. What’s Charlotte’s brand?

Should our catch-phrase focus on banking? Health care? NASCAR? It’s the kind of image-conscious hand-wringing that always makes Charlotte seem like the pimply new kid at the big-city prom, hoping girls will notice his shiny new suit.

Branding is fine. But before we obsess over PR, let’s focus on fundamentals. Like revitalizing our old buildings and neighborhoods rather than paving over them. And financing mass transit, parks and schools.

We’re one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. As long as people keep coming and we make smart choices about growth, the branding will take care of itself.