Editor’s Desk

Column: How N.C. plays around the country

August 22, 2013 

It’s old news that North Carolina’s legislature made headlines this summer in places like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

But the Tar Heel state is apparently making the news in other important places, too, like Eagle River, Alaska.

That’s where my friend and fraternity brother, Randy Pasley, lives.

He’s an engineer with a company that does work on Alaska’s North Slope. He’s also a North Carolina mountain boy who can play just about any instrument you put in front of him.

In fact, he played the guitar at my wedding and did an amazing job after he drove through the night from a gig elsewhere in the state.

Randy’s gift to all his friends each Christmas is a video he posts to Facebook in which he plays a Christmas hymn on his steel guitar.

One of my favorite college memories is of spending a weekend in his Ashe County home and visiting an old store where Randy, his brother Todd and some other men pulled out their instruments and jammed for a little while.

Musical talents aside, Randy’s also a pretty smart guy and even though he’s a long way from North Carolina, he likes to keep up.

I noticed a post he put on Facebook recently in which he pointed out that North Carolina was making the national news even up in Alaska.

Intrigued, I asked him what kinds of things were making the news where he lives.

My question was pretty quickly drowned out by Obama haters and McCrory haters – people of all political persuasions.

So I talked to him again offline a couple nights later to find out just what kinds of reports he was hearing. Turns out the push – small though it was – to create a state religion, had legs in Alaska. So, too, did news about North Carolina voting laws.

And while it may not be all that interesting that North Carolina is getting press in Alaska, what is interesting is the tenor of the reporting. Readers and viewers, Randy said, get the impression that North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature has gotten too extreme.

Now, reasonable people can debate until the cows come home whether the legislature was too extreme in its actions during the last session, or not strident enough.

But chamber of commerce types will be quick to point out that coverage which makes the state seem extreme in either direction probably isn’t best for North Carolina’s reputation or its ability to attract and retain businesses that offer high-paying jobs.

Randy still has a lot of friends and family here in North Carolina, and he stays in touch with them and hears about what goes on in North Carolina from them too.

But the important thing to remember here is, if Randy’s hearing and seeing and reading these media reports then, so, too, are other regular Alaskans. And, so, too, are other regular people in other states.

It’s said that a man has nothing if he loses his reputation. The same could be said for a state.

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