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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – As New Hanover County Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield wrapped up his State of the County address Monday night, he invited Wilmington media to partner with the county to showcase all of the great things it’s doing for citizens.

He also said the same thing in his first sit-down interview on the county’s cable channel.

While we as a local TV news organization don’t mind highlighting the good things going on in the county when they are timely and newsworthy, we can not – and will never – be a “partner” with the county.

What Mr. Barfield doesn’t seem to understand is that a local news outlet, whether it be print, television, cable or radio, can’t be a partner with a government entity and still be considered unbiased. What happens if a commissioner gets a DWI one night? Would the commission expect us not to cover it because it might embarrass our “partners?” What if a county employee is charged with embezzlement? Would our viewers be comfortable with our coverage if we’re considered “in bed” with local officials?

So Mr. Barfield, please don’t be offended if we don’t take you up on your offer. Please keep sending us news releases touting all the great things you’re doing to make our area a great place to live. But let’s just be friends, OK?

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