With a statewide readership of nearly 130,000 — through mail circulation, boxes, and partnerships with local newspapers in Greensboro, Asheville, and Hendersonville — Carolina Journal covers state government and the legislature while also offering special sections on education, books and culture, higher education, and local government.
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While known for its analysis and commentary, the newspaper is also a leader in investigative journalism. In 1997, CJ broke the story of a $21 million slush fund used by legislative insiders for pork barrel projects in violation of law. The following year, a CJ investigation of hiring and promotion practices in state government helped to prompt former Gov. Jim Hunt and lawmakers to enact reforms of the state personnel system.
More recently, reporters have exposed conflicts of interest and misuse of public funds in stories on the infamous taxpayer-subsidized Randy Parton Theater in Roanoke Rapids, a natural-gas boondoggle in Northeastern North Carolina, problems in the state ferry division, state grants to politically connected nonprofits, Mike Easley’s real estate deals and use of friends’ airplanes to fly for free, Mary Easley’s huge raise at N.C. State, abuse of the state’s school lunch program, and many other issues.
Partly as a consequence of CJ investigations, former State Sen. Frank Ballance resigned his office as a freshman member of Congress in 2004 and was later indicted for federal crimes. CJ also published important reporting on the scandals surrounding former House Speaker Jim Black, who also ended up in federal prison.