Across social media, North Carolina lawmakers, media members and others are remembering Mark Binker, the veteran state political reporter who died unexpectedly on Saturday.
A memorial service has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, May 12, at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Raleigh.
Binker, 43, passed away at his home. The cause of death has not been determined.
He had recently joined the N.C. Insider, a state government newsletter owned by The News & Observer. Prior to that, he had worked as a member of WRAL’s state capital team for five years and before that as a state politics reporter for the News & Record in Greensboro.
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The Capitol press corps invites people to add remembrances to a memorial book in the press room of the Legislative Building.
A sampling of the reaction on Twitter:
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams released a statement:
“I was heartbroken to learn of Mark Binker’s passing. Mark and I shared many moments during my time in the General Assembly. He was a permanent fixture in the legislature who was honest, fair and committed to his craft. My heart goes out to Mark’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Amy Auth, deputy chief of staff for N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger, shared this personal tribute to Binker:
“I first got to know Mark Binker when I handled public relations on U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx’s very first Congressional campaign. I was 21 years old, fresh out of journalism school and in my very first ‘real’ job. I remember the butterflies I’d get in my stomach when I’d receive a call from a big city newspaper reporter like Mark Binker, who had a command of the complex issues he covered like nobody else. (He worked for the Greensboro News & Record at the time.)
“I’d often let his calls go to voicemail so I could rehearse what I wanted to say and work up the courage to call him back. Nearly fourteen years later, it is hard for me to believe I was ever intimidated by ‘Binker.’ He was still the same tough-as-nails reporter he always was, and often wrote stories that gave me heartburn, but in the many years we worked together in the crazy world of North Carolina politics, he became my good friend. I would never send his calls to voicemail.
“Mark had a quick wit I’ve seen in few people, and could easily diffuse a highly stressful situation (and there were lots!) with an off-the-cuff joke that would have my colleagues and I double over in a fit of laughter. Mark was one-of-a-kind, and there are few people I respect as much as a journalist – and as a human being. We will all miss him.”
Josh Ellis, a former reporter, communications director for former Gov. Pat McCrory and now the associate vice president for media relations at the UNC system, shared the following:
“I first got to know Mark when I was a rookie reporter covering the state legislature. We were among the few journalists who worked at the General Assembly almost everyday – even out of session. He was always happy to help me and put up with countless silly questions about the process. While I appreciated his professional insight, I enjoyed his kindness and snarky sense of humor even more.
“Later as I left the press corps to take on various communications roles in state government, I got to see Mark from a different perspective. He was a no-nonsense, tough and persistent journalist, but he was fair and would always let you make your case. And even after we finished our work-related conversations, I could always count on Mark asking about my family or sharing stories about his latest trips with Marla, Max or Mason.
“Mark will be greatly missed and I pray that his family finds peace in this extremely difficult time.”