Why and how NC Policy Watch reported the story about Rep. Duane Hall

[This post refers to the story “Top Democrats call on Rep. Duane Hall to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations” that was published this afternoon on the main NC Policy Watch website.]

The world of news reporting has changed in many dramatic ways in recent years – some positive and some negative. One change that clearly fits in the former category, however, relates to the issue of sexual and personal misconduct committed by people in positions of power and prominence. Where once reporters averted their eyes from such behavior or ignored it under the premise that it was “private” and thereby beyond the scope of the public’s right to know, today things are very different.

In 2018 America, there is a broad consensus that such behavior is newsworthy, that the public is entitled to know about it, that victims should feel empowered and encouraged to speak up, and that journalists have an affirmative duty to report it when they become aware of compelling evidence that it has occurred.

This trend has, of course, taken on added momentum with the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the #MeToo movement. All across the country, victims who might have remained in cowed silence just a few years ago have been reaching out to journalists – and, often, speaking out directly on social media without the intermediary of a journalist – to tell their stories.

Here in North Carolina, such stories have been comparatively rare. The Charlotte-based Carolina Panthers NFL franchise was, of course, rocked (and ultimately forced to be put up for sale) by revelations that owner Jerry Richardson had long engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior. In the seat of government in Raleigh, however, relatively few such stories have come to light.

In 2017, however, things began to change. As multiple reporters began to put out inquiries in and around the state capital, rumors began to circulate and reach the ears of Policy Watch journalists – all of whom have extensive experience covering (and contacts in) state government

One such journalist was NC Policy Watch Education Reporter Billy Ball. Ball joined Policy Watch in January 2016. In his 15+ years as a North Carolina reporter, he’s covered public schools, state and local politics, courts, the environment, criminal justice and immigration for publications like The Independent Weekly, The Sanford Herald and The Monroe Enquirer-Journal. During that time, he’s won more than 20 state, regional and national awards for his reporting, including first place awards for education reporting and news feature reporting in 2016. And while Ball did not join the Policy Watch staff to write stories about sexual harassment or inappropriate personal behavior, neither did he (or the rest of our team) feel that he could ignore such stories.

As a result, the story in question represents many, many hours of dedicated work by Ball to report the facts as they relate to the behavior of Rep. Duane Hall. Ball interviewed numerous individuals over a period of multiple weeks and carefully reviewed and assessed the information obtained in those interviews with fellow Policy Watch journalists. Every effort was made to convince sources to allow their names to be used. In some instances, however, in which sources asked for anonymity but nonetheless related compelling and convincing stories, the decision was made on a case-by-case basis to publish their accounts of the facts. We are satisfied that these decisions were made fully within the spirit of long-established and widely recognized rules of journalistic ethics.

The result is an important story about an elected official who joins a long and distressing list of public figures who are alleged to have engaged in inappropriate personal behavior.

The Policy Watch team welcomes your comments and feedback.


  1. Lise Glazier

    February 28, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you.

  2. James

    February 28, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    A tough call, but the right call. Sadly, it seems we have a double standard, one for Republicans and one for Democrats. Democrats act to clean up their messes. Republicans pass out promotions for bad behavior.

  3. Carl Lanson

    February 28, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    This is an exaggerated self congratulatory post.

    The accusations at face value amount to clumsy flirtation or poor form. It is an insult to women who are really harassed and abused to compare this to their plight.

    You only have one source on the record who accused Rep Hall of comments made in a bar? The others are anonymously sourced by a third tier reporter.

    The accusations themselves amount to boorish behavior. The most serious sound like foolish horseplay at a liberal event. We are to believe he kissed a woman against her will at a large event and you have one witness? That is shocking.

    This only serves to undermine the left by creating a culture of accepting any accusation.

    Since none of the women work for or are regulated by Rep Hall – what do they have to fear? Did you explore whether any of the sources had a prior romantic relationship with Rep Hall? Are any of them rejected lovers ?
    Did you ask them these questions?

    You took the easy tabloid path and should be ashamed.

  4. Jellen Hall

    March 1, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Let the voters decide. I agree that it seems more like flirting and perhaps boorish behavior. I don’t see any sexual assault or sexial misconduct in what has been revealed as evidence. I think we need to stick to the serious cases and stop this pettiness. it sounds like a man or woman cannot flirt any more

  5. Steve Harrison

    March 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for the explanation Rob, but for those of us who have followed NC Policy Watch for years, it wasn’t really necessary. I already knew you folks had put (very) much thought into this, and I also know if you trust your sources, there were good reasons to.

    As far as debating “degrees” of harassment, or any other questionable behavior, we simply must hold elected officials to a high standard that may seem unfair. Trust is a fragile thing. And not just public trust, but the trust of those female lawmakers, staffers, and yes, even political consultants and operatives.

  6. Christopher Lizak

    March 2, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Hall is guilty of being a single man, not a harasser. If a man does not wish to remain single, he is expected to approach women he is interested in. This can take many forms, and not all women respond well to all of the options. This activity is ordinarily referred to as “attempting to date” – not sexual misconduct.

    Accusations like these trivialize the real sexual harassment that is committed by men of real influence who actually hold power over their victims, as opposed to a meager, poorly paid, NC House rep.

    And all of this comes out as he prepares for his marriage in May?

  7. George Greene

    March 2, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    SOMEbody Is Just Lying.
    “Survivors deserve to be believed” but J. Random Allegant does not.
    Journalists are supposed to be BETTER AT this than the average person. Especially award-
    winning journalists. I’m not sure N.Y.Times v. Sullivan covers this…. Shouldn’t Hall be suing White for slander at this point?

    As for the alleged Democratic party officer who was allegedly kissed without her consent in June 2016, I, as a person who votes directly on many of those offices, am simply appalled at her refusal to be named. I do very much consider condoning that to be a failure on NCPW’s part.

  8. Carl Lanson

    March 5, 2018 at 2:20 am

    It seems you left out the most important information in the story.

    What are the personal relationships between Rep. Duane Hall and your staffers? Is Policy Watch being used a vehicle for personal attacks?

    Are Duane Hall’s statements true regarding Rick Glazier masking his involvement?

    Respectfully, how could this happen? You write a story to show your candor and omit significant relationships with staffers?

    I thought you guys wanted to help the poor.

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