This post has been updated to more accurately explain the timeline of Curliss’s internship at The N&O.
Award-winning investigative reporter Andy Curliss was just an intern at The News & Observer the summer of 1995, before it won the Pulitzer Prize for its incisive examination of the state’s hog industry. That damning series, published in February 1995 by Pat Stith, Joby Warrick and Melanie Sill, explored the corporate power of big pork, its sizeable campaign contributions to state lawmakers and the not-so-coincidental weak regulations that led to environmental disasters in eastern North Carolina.
The five-part story is credited with forcing an overhaul of corporate swine farms.
Now Curliss, who left the paper late last year, is the new CEO of the NC Pork Council. He starts his new job Nov. 14.
The pork council is the influential trade and lobbying group that’s consistently fought the very regulations the N&O series prompted.
As NCPW reported earlier this fall, it is behind the NC Farm Families ads, a greenwashing campaign aimed at discrediting the Waterkeeper Alliance.
In addition, pork council members crashed a environmental justice mediation between community members at the state Department of Environmental Quality. That intrusion led lawyers for the affected communities to file a civil rights complaint with the EPA against the DEQ.
Curliss replaces Deborah Johnson, who announced her departure last June.
During his 20 years as a state government reporter at the N&O, Curliss broke a story that led to then Gov. Mike Easley’s conviction for falsifying a campaign finance report. It placed fourth in Pulitzer contest. He was a significant contributor to coverage of Hurricane Floyd, which was a Pulitzer finalist.
He also wrote several pork stories: “High on the Hog,” which chronicled the success of Silky Pork, grown in North Carolina, but big in Japan.