Hal Tarleton Daily Times Opinion Editor
When I came into the newspaper business more than 30 years ago, I brought with me an aversion — common in the industry at the time — to legislative lobbying, civic club involvement and other community participation. The philosophy of the time was that newspapers and newspapers editors should do their advocacy on the editorial page and stay away from back-room political persuasion or other civic involvement.
That philosophy has mellowed a bit, as journalists have realized we don’t live in a vacuum, and the enforced isolation we once embraced can be misinterpreted as aloofness. But it was the four years I served on the board of the N.C. Press Association that really opened my eyes to just how involved N.C. newspapers are in political lobbying.
Democracy North Carolina’s recent report on lobbying expenditures in the 2005 session of the General Assembly opened my eyes even further. The Press Association was listed among the top 10 in the state in lobbying expenditures.
The Press Association spent $147,667, the seventh-highest amount in the state, during the 2005 session. NCPA trailed behind No. 1 N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry at $220,715 and the Insurance Federation of N.C. at $203,500, but it spent more than the N.C. Association of County Commissioners ($111,970) and the N.C. League of Municipalities ($96,806). It’s also far ahead of Bank of America, Sprint, Progress Energy, Duke Energy and the N.C. Association of Educators. (more…)