Senate leader Phil Berger changes news headlines on Facbeook

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger Facebook page has come under scrutiny since he and his staff got caught adjusting actual news headlines. In one example, he changed the News & Observer’s headline, “In HB2 repeal effort, Gov. Cooper is silent on proposed nondiscrimination law” to his own headline, “Has Roy Cooper flip-flopped on HB 2?”

After further review, Facebook found this practice in violation of its site’s policies. Berger took to Facebook shortly after some posts and comments were taken down from his page and accused Facebook and the N&O of censorship.

Other local reporters, including Alex Rose of WGHP Fox 8, shared the N&O’s story, and said modifying headlines “is misleading and erodes an independent free press.”


Gov. Roy Cooper introduces state budget

Gov. Roy Cooper released his 2017-19 budget proposal on Wednesday. The budget would increase state government spending by $1.1 billion next year, according to ABC 11. The Raleigh News & Observer reports the budget includes a heavy investment in education with 10 percent raises for public school teachers over two years. Cooper’s budget would also expand Medicaid coverage by more than 600,000 people and allow law enforcement officers to retire five years earlier. WRAL outlined some of the other budget highlights.

The lengthy process for approving the budget is underway, and the Republican-controlled legislature will review and pass appropriations bills.

Republican leaders have signaled Cooper will face an uphill battle. A WRAL article quotes Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger calling the budget a “reckless $1 billion spending spree” that would return the state “to the days of high taxes and multi-billion dollar deficits.” WRAL also notes North Carolina is expected to finish the 2016-17 fiscal year with a $522 million surplus, but Cooper’s budget increases state spending by more than twice that amount. In a statement, Cooper said he is prepared to work with lawmakers and that his goals are “universal and bipartisan.”

Bill introduced to allow concealed carry guns on college campuses

North Carolina lawmakers filed House Bill 251 on Thursday, which would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry their handguns on UNC-system universities and state community college, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

The bill’s proponents say it will make campuses safer, but gun control proponents have concerns about guns in colleges. Becky Ceartas, executive director of the Durham-based North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, told the News & Observer he felt the legislation was “very dangerous.”

Earlier this session, 10 Republican legislators introduced House Bill 69. WNCN reports people the bill would enable people to put their pistols in pockets or purses without a permit.

Bipartisan HB2 repeal bill introduced, met with mixed response

The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 last year, a bill that among many things, requires people to use restrooms of the sex on their birth certificate. Past efforts to repeal HB2 and find a compromise between Democrats and Republicans have been unsuccessful, leading some lawmakers to take it upon themselves to search for solutions. On Wednesday, two Democrats and two Republicans introduced House Bill 186 in an effort to protect transgender rights and create tougher penalties for bathroom crimes. Colin Campbell of the Raleigh News & Observer broke the story Wednesday evening in a tweet and wrote an article shortly thereafter.

The bill has generated bipartisan support with several co-sponsors, but many LGBT advocacy groups oppose it. Chris Sgro, director of Equality North Carolina, fears the compromise will not “bring back business or sporting events, and only serves to reinforce the damage,” according to an article from WRAL.

The biggest question right now seems to be whether HB186 will have enough votes to pass through the House and Senate. If it does pass through both chambers, there is still a possibility Gov. Roy Cooper would not sign it into law. Cooper has expressed his concerns with the proposed repeal, saying in a tweet that the bill “fails the basic test of restoring our reputation.” Those who introduced the bill, including Republican co-sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville, are defending the bill as “a bipartisan fix to solve this contentious issue.”

First Assignment

  • For my curation assignment, I will be gathering information related to North Carolina politics. This subject will primarily focus on activities taking place in the General Assembly, statewide elected offices and regulatory agencies.
  • Here are links to 10 sources currently covering my topic on a daily basis.
  1. Raleigh News & Observer — This site is relevant to my topic because it is home to the second largest newspaper in the state. It has strong department of political reporting, which includes Craig Jarvis, Colin Campbell and Lynn Bonner. They are a terrific resource for information on the latest in state politics. The outlet’s weekly “Under the Dome” podcast is also incredibly helpful in keeping with the latest news.
  2. WRAL — WRAL is one of the most reputable broadcast news sources in the country. Mark Binker is a solid investigative reporter who often reporting on activities within the state legislature. They often interview high-profile politicians.
  3. Burlington Times-News — Good source of information for local news in Alamance County. Natalie Janicello does a solid job of staying up to date with crime and political affairs. The site also pulls helpful stories from the Associated process. Here’s an example.
  4. Charlotte Observer — Though this outlet is based in Charlotte, it does a good job of keeping up with current pieces of legislation. The site does some solid reporting and his Twitter feed is a valuable resource. This news outlet has the largest paper in the state and has an ability to get stories other outlets don’t.
  5. North Carolina Legislature — There is no site more helpful than this government page of the General Assembly. It lists all members of the state House and Senate, has a calendar of events. Perhaps its greatest feature is the ability yo quickly and easily search for documents and bills.
  6. Michael Bitzer — He is an influential blogger and political scientist. His information is helpful in providing large datasets. He also a knowledgeable person when it comes to policymaking.
  7. WBTV — On Your Side Investigates is a valuable source of information. Nick Ochsner does a good job of breaking down complex bills as well. The site itself is not as informative as the traditional broadcasts, but the information is still helpful.
  8. North State Journal — More of a slanted conservative outlet but helpful in getting other perspectives. This is more of a watchdog political group than a news organization. Even so, it provides insightful commentary to better understand difficult subjects.
  9. N.C. Insider — Offers unique legislative tracking tool and has several experts. It is worth noting it is not really friendly to non-subscribers. However, the Twitter feed and some of the reporters offer important insight. This is more of a policy-centered news group.
  10. N.C. Policy Watch — Provides news and commentary on public policy. This site seems to lean more liberally, but the blog is still a good resource for information and helps my curation in capturing multiple perspectives. Education news appears to be the most helpful and valuable page.
  • Twitter list is available here.