Colin Campbell, editor of the Insider, published a column today describing the new changes slated for the legislature when they arrive for the 2019 session in a few short days. Most strikingly, Republican legislative leaders have decided to move the location of the press room from its central position on the first floor into a smaller, basement room. In fact, Campbell writes, they’ve been delegated “to the farthest possible corner of the building’s basement, to a space that’s smaller and can accommodate fewer reporters,” at the behest of Paul Coble, legislative administrator, and of course Moore and Berger.
Campbell goes on to lament the anti-media rhetoric we tend to see nationwide these days, but it is more disheartening to see the, for lack of a better term, trickle-down effect of this language. Too many people discard the impact of the language that our leaders use, especially when it is geared toward the fourth estate. Reporters and journalists are more than some synecdoche that represents the media writ large. They are individuals who work tirelessly to present to us the facts about the government we elect, and the goings-on of those elected officials in, as Campbell emphasizes, the People’s House.
This move represents more than just the leaders in power acting on their disdain for those who hold them to account; in fact, it ought to be viewed as an action taken against the people themselves. Though we like to think of ourselves as informed citizens, it is not through desire alone that we know the happenings in Raleigh. We cannot, as individuals, go and sit-in on every committee meeting, or on every vote; no, we require the reporters from various publications across the state to do that work for citizens every single day. Republican leadership in the General Assembly are loath to allow the citizens they represent to know what they do.
Gore Vidal said that, “Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.” If Moore, Berger and Coble had their way, the former statistic would be well on the rise. Another layer of secrecy in this General Assembly is bad news for anyone who cares about good government.
Kirk Kovach is a native North Carolinian interested in writing about politics, communication and culture.