Mark Binker, multimedia investigative reporter, WRAL-TV, was the 2015 recipient of the Weidenbaum Center Award for Evidence-Based Journalism. His submissions illustrated how the Center’s 2014 Media Retreat contributed to his focus on interrogating numbers and how sources come into play. He submitted fact checks that drew, at least in part, on topics, methods, or ideas discussed at the Center’s Media Retreat.
Mark has been recognized by The Washington Post as one of the best state capitol reporters in America. He has reported on presidential press pools, followed a bear meandering through suburban Pennsylvania, and butted heads with obstinate local politicians.
“It's our government; we ought to understand it. My most basic job as a journalist is to help connect you to those whom you elect and who spend your tax dollars. A good story should help you make sense of how governments are (or are not) functioning. Sometimes that connection comes from explaining a complex topic in simple language or finding out something those in charge would rather you didn't know. Sometimes it's as simple as being there to witness what most people can't. Reporting can be aggravating some days, but it is never dull. . . . What the Weidenbaum seminar urges its participants to do is to pierce that veil of numbers just as we would sort through the tangled jumble of a politician’s explanation for bad behavior. The retreat’s motto might be, ‘If a number is too convenient, check it out.’ Over the past year I have found myself asking those who are bringing facts and figures to bear, ‘How do you know that?’ . . . That has made me a better everyday reporter and has informed my thinking on a number of projects."