Gov. Pat McCrory’s office is asking state agencies to pitch in by supplying a photographer and videographer to record the governor.
According to email records, participation isn’t optional. “We will start assigning photographers/videographers if we are unable to get volunteers,” press secretary Josh Ellis wrote on Oct. 7.
The emails show the governor had two staffers in tow nearly every day in mid-October, documenting events from Wilmington to Asheville.
When McCrory headed west on Oct. 23 to visit the new polar bear exhibit at the N.C. Zoo, a videographer from the Department of Public Safety caught the action. Later that same day, the digital media director from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences was along to document McCrory at the dedication of a manufacturing center in Marion. The videographer’s services, however, weren’t used at a closed-door meeting of mayors in Asheville on that same trip.
Other events have been captured by communications staffers for the Department of Transportation.
Ellis said the videos and photos are sent to the news media and posted on Facebook and Twitter.
“By us being able to include photos and include video of the speeches, we hope it will make it easier for reporters and the public to be able to keep tabs on what we’re doing,” he said.
But not all of the photos and videos have shown up online. Six videos were posted on the governor’s website in October; three of those were TV news stories and other outside coverage. Video from the Marion trip has not been posted but Ellis said it will be used in a future project.
Ellis has two staff members working under him, but he said they’re not always able to shoot photos and video. Ellis said the photographers for state agencies are “all part of the McCrory administration.”
“It allows us to put out more communications, put out more photos and video without having to hire a bunch of additional positions to do it,” Ellis said.
Asked whether photos and videos might be used in McCrory’s re-election campaign, Ellis said the office “can’t control” what outside groups do with the content once it’s posted.
In the recent elections, critics of outside spending in races complained about video dumping by incumbents, which allowed political action committees to take such “B-roll” videos and use in campaign ads.
Roping in state agencies to help document the governor’s activities isn’t unique to the McCrory administration. Chrissy Pearson, who served as press secretary under Gov. Bev Perdue, said it was a common practice under her leadership.
“We were sensitive to their agency duties though, of course,” said Pearson, who now heads communcations for Durham County schools.