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Remembering Mark Binker, a true insider whose insight made WTW better

Mark Binker at the U.S. Supreme Court

May, 1 2017, 7:08 AM

Mark Binker's primary beat for WRAL.com was politics but to WRAL TechWire readers he was someone who helped make the issues such as crowdfunding and economic development much more understandable. To The Skinny, he also was someone who always made time to help.

"Binker was a reporter’s reporter. His reporting was thorough, deep and fair, and he never lost sight of the human stories behind the political machinations," WRAL.com said in an obituary.

"He was dogged, irascible, funny and kind, always ready to take on an intern or help a young reporter find his or her way."

Binker died unexpectedly Saturday. His death stunned family, friends, colleagues and those he covered over a 12-year career of covering North Carolina politics. He leaves behind his wife, Maria, and two sons, Mason and Max.

Readers of WRAL TechWire and WRAL.com's Business section may not have been as familiar with Binker as WRAL's @Capitol and WRAL TV's political coverage. But he was often a provider of information and coverage that was simply vital to TechWire's coverage when politics touched startups, the entrepreneurial ecosystem and job creation.

His contributions were most significant in coverage of crowdfunding, dating all the way back to 2013 when the tortuous path to passage of legislation began. The battle didn't end until last August.

Over the years - yes, years - that the debate covered, Binker never once failed to respond to requests The Skinny made for insight, for information, for scuttlebutt about what was going on. He was quoted and cited as a source often.

Example: "I never got the sense that the broader economic development bill (the one with new market tax credits, special investment fund, etc...) was really in the conversation," Binker told The Skinny last July about a huge economic development bill. "It certainly wasn't in the mix as lawmakers shutdown the session."

Always on call

Many times those questions were emailed to him late at night or on weekends. The answers were prompt and insightful.

When calls came my way from him for help or insight, payback was just as swift.

Sometimes Binker provided insight and background information that wasn't for attribution, too. He helped The Skinny to understand why crowdfunding and other economic development decisions that seemed so logical and deserved passage on the surface were caught up in the sausage grinding process at the General Assembly.

The Skinny was hardly alone in recognizing Mark's efforts. In fact, Investor Mark Easley, who led in many ways the lobbying efforts to find a crowdfunding solution at the General Assembly, praised Binker's reporting as being one of the reasons a bill was passed.

Mark didn't have to help. He did. And The Skinny tried to always make sure to say thanks.

In my rare visits to the WRAL newsroom, priorities always included:

1. Seeing if Mark was at his desk and, if so, saying hello and shaking his hand to say thanks

2. Start a conversation about what all was happening in the la-la land of politics. He always had something to offer.

Mark had recently left WRAL to become editor of The Insider, a political newsletter. He was missed already.

Now Mark Binker will be missed even more.

"He earned the respect of everyone he covered. His passing leaves a large void in the institutional knowledge and the spirit of the capitol press corps," his @Capitol teammates Laura Leslie and Matt Burns wrote in their obituary.

Mark Binker was 43.





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