Veteran statehouse journalist and former WRAL News multimedia investigative reporter Mark Binker died unexpectedly at his home early Saturday. He was 43.
Binker leaves behind his beloved wife, Marla, and sons Mason and Max. He also is survived by his parents, Gerald and Barbara Binker; mother- and father-in-law, Fran and Bob Smith; and brothers-in-law Richard Smith and David Smith.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. May 12 at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.
A site to help with funeral costs and to benefit Binker’s sons has been set up online.
Binker, who earned his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Maryland, covered North Carolina politics for 12 years, first for the Greensboro News & Record, then for @NCCapitol at WRAL.com and most recently for the political newsletter The Insider. He was named editor of The Insider in March, where he was excited to have the opportunity to write columns that would run statewide.
He was also active in the profession in a service capacity, helping to run the national group CapitolBeat, arranging conferences to inform and educate reporters around the country on policy issues and best practices for day-to-day statehouse work. He was also past president of the North Carolina Capitol Press Corps, where he helped to formalize the group’s bylaws and policy on advocacy journalism.
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. He was dogged, irascible, funny and kind, always ready to take on an intern or help a young reporter find his or her way.
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.
“Mark was a passionate reporter who was determined to hold government officials accountable to the people they serve,” WRAL News Director Rick Gall said. “He was a major contributor to our @NCCapitol coverage, and we’ll be forever grateful to him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
“Mark Binker was an outstanding journalist who uniquely understood complex issues and explained to viewers and readers why they should care,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “He never ducked asking tough questions or stopped digging for more. His death leaves a huge hole in the press corps, and our hearts go out to his family.”
“I’m greatly saddened by the passing of Mark Binker,” Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a statement. “Binker always called himself a ‘scruffy old reporter,’ but his humility couldn’t hide his sharp intellect – he was a policy wonk at heart who always did his homework.
“Because of his professionalism, Binker was both respected by and respectful of everyone he covered,” said Berger, R-Rockingham. “The highest compliment I can pay Binker as a political reporter is that, through almost 15 years of regular interaction with him, I have no idea what his personal politics were. I want to extend my deepest condolences to his wife and sons.”
“The North Carolina Republican Party is sadden to learn of the untimely death of Mark Binker,” GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said in a statement. “I have personally known Mark for many years, going back to his days at the Greensboro News & Record, through his time at WRAL and at The Insider. He was tough, thorough and fair. May God be with his family.”
“I was deeply saddened to hear today of the untimely passing of Mark Binker,” state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. “As a widely beloved and respected statehouse reporter, Mark strove each day to inform North Carolinians about their leaders and government in a fair and thoughtful manner. My thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s wife, Marla, and his two sons during this difficult time. Mark will be dearly missed by all those involved in our state’s public life.”
“Mark had the sharpest wit in the Capitol Press Corps and a knack for giving his readers a real inside look at the legislature,” said House Speaker Tim Moore. “In many ways he represented the very best of North Carolina, and no one knew or covered the General Assembly better than Mark Binker. Mark will be greatly missed and remembered as one of the best capitol beat reporters the state has ever had. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing and extend my fullest sympathies to his family on behalf of the House of Representatives.”
Binker’s love of journalism was surpassed only by his love for his family. He was an incredibly devoted father, coaching his sons’ soccer teams, camping with Y Guides and helping Max build a catapult for the science competition they were to attend Saturday.
The Capitol Broadcasting Co. family extends our most heartfelt condolences. He will be sorely missed.
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Laura Leslie & WRAL.com for this capcom story.