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THE BEST AND WORST CAPITOL CORRESPONDENTS
Welcome to PoliticsPA's First Annual Awards presentation for the BEST and WORST Capitol Correspondent. We were stunned by the email nominations we received for this dubious distinction, however, our web surfers could not give us a clear cut winner in each category. Therefore, we've decided to list our own winners...and losers. Since there are so many correspondents in the State Capitol press corps, we also decided to add an "Honorable Mention" to the list of BEST and WORST Capitol Correspondent.
THE BEST CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT:
Charlie Thompson of The Harrisburg Patriot News. Thompson covers mostly state government issues and does some political writing but gets major points in our book for his balanced, unbiased reporting. Although Thompson's editors have assigned him to cover some of the more scandalous side of state government, he doesn't approach that directive with much enthusiasm (like some other reporters). Instead, he tends to approach each subject with an open mind and is fair in his effort to cover both sides of the story. During his interviews, Thompson may seem to lack a complete grasp of what he's covering but don't be fooled by his simple nature. In fact, the guy is pretty smart and his writing is excellent.
John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News. Baer has a style all his own and understanding his readership gives one an appreciation for his flare of communications. He may not write the intellectual pieces of a Pete DeCoursey but his points are simple, on the mark, and conveyed with a sense of humor that makes folks laugh out loud when reading his column. Baer's a trusted reported who will not print "off the record" remarks and, as a former press secretary to a Lt. Governor, has as firm grasp of the political process in Pennsylvania. His articles cut through all the Capitol B.S. and gives readers a simple, straightforward understanding of politics and state government.
THE WORST CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT:
Mario Cattabiani of the Allentown Morning Call. The Bob Woodward of the Capitol press corp, Cattabiani is usually trying to write the award winning story. In doing so has compromised his respect as a journalist by writing feature stories that have crossed the line in covering politics and state government in Harrisburg. Some of his articles seem better suited for the tabloids. To be fair, his editors deserve some of the blame for their sensationalizing headlines. Many who are interviewed by Cattabiani believe he already has a hidden agenda and, more times than not, his articles lack fairness and balance. His rush to write some stories have literally excluded people who are being trashed in his article from ever responding in the initial broadside. He provides little, if any insight, on the politics of state government. Instead, his readers get a healthy dose of the "apparent" wrong-doing in Harrisburg.
Nancy Eshelman of the Harrisburg Patriot News. Eshelman is not a Capitol correspondent but rather an assistant editor writing in the capital city. She does comment quite a bit on the state government scene and her columns normally make the clipping services in the Capitol. It was hard to avoid mentioning this scorned woman but she writes about people in government with such distain that she had to make our list. Just about everyone is bad in Eshelman's columns with little positive or good to say about people. And like a dog with bone, she won't let some issues or people go from evil grasp. Her writing lacks any insight into most topics and her attempt at humor falls flat. All we can say is, this is a woman with issues. Personal issues. And she shouldn't be writing a column.