When I was growing up, I devoured The News & Observer. I started with the comics, eventually adding the sports section before graduating to reading the whole thing, cover to cover.

As I got closer to college, and my aspirations for journalism grew clearer, I started to put myself in the shoes of the people whose bylines I most admired. Caulton Tudor in sports. Keung Hui on education. But the reporter I most wanted to emulate was Rob Christensen, the long-time political columnist for the N&O. The way he blended the past and present into a narrative of relevance and context was supremely valuable.

That sort of political discourse — contextual, analytical, free from hysteria — is getting harder and harder to find these days in North Carolina. The dynamics of the media industry and shrinking newsrooms are pushing our state’s publications toward sensationalist headlines and rapid-fire takes. We have taken to reporting on conflict, not substance.

Half the time, it’s impossible to figure out what’s actually going on by reading the news. Our state is worse off for it.

It’s easy to understand why this is happening. Even-handed, analytical reporting doesn’t go viral on Facebook nearly as often. There is a distinct formula for creating a story publishable in a mainstream news publication that doesn’t allow for intellectual debate.

Our niche media and political parties have drifted farther from the center along with their bases.

That’s why I created Longleaf Politics — to take a different approach.

I want to build a news source that’s trusted by the vast majority of North Carolinians who exist in the middle of the political spectrum. I am open to ideas from all sides.

I want to give people a no-BS look at the news, stripped of corrosive partisanship or a need for clicks. It might take longer to build, but it’s what our state needs.

At a deeper level, this site will be my love letter to the state of North Carolina. I proudly fly our state flag outside of my home and seriously considered buying a Plott hound. I’m fascinated by the people who have built this state and will relish the chance to spend time writing about its politics. I hope you will join me on the journey.

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