Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Veteran State House reporter Dusty McNichol passed away today at the age of 54. He was a brilliant journalist, a true gentleman and a real friend. Dusty was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team while at the Newark Star Ledger and until today he was working the capitol beat for Bloomberg News.

Nobody knew more about state budgets than Dusty. I've been in budget briefings with him since 2002. The press corps was a lot larger back then and we all had questions about the complicated issues that make up a budget, but when Dusty started to ask a question not only did we defer to him, we shut up and listened closely because we knew whatever he was about to ask was going to be the most important question.

Dusty would ask technical questions using jargon that had me longing for a thesaurus, but when I read his story the next day (and we all did) it was written in a relatable way that anyone could easily understand and digest. That's a rare talent.

Whenever I would appear on the weekly "Reporters Roundtable" television program on NJN I was always happy if Dusty was on the panel too. His insights were remarkably informative, but more often than not he would finish his comments with a sly remark and a cat that ate the canary grin that said, "let's not take all of this too seriously."

The press learned of Dusty's passing after we returned from an hour-long press conference with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. We got back to our offices thinking we've got a lot of work to do, but as soon as we all read the sad email our moods changed. About a dozen or so reporters stood in my office for a while and just kind of looked at one another. We were thinking more about Dusty than we were talking about him.

Dusty was a great person and the best journalist in New Jersey and I would have said those things yesterday if someone had asked. I could have said them to Dusty yesterday too when he was standing in my office shooting the breeze about things I can't even remember but wish I could.

Rest in Peace Dusty. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your wife and son.


Anonymous said...

Well-written Kevin. I second your sentiments. I feel priviliged to have occasionally worked alongside Dusty. He was the best without ever being flashy. The ultimate reporter. But even more importantly, he was a good man, a thoughtful man that was easy with a laugh and easy to talk to. New Jersey will miss him.

Scott G.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I enjoyed his articles, and his commentaries on NJN.
RIP, and may God comfort his family.

Anonymous said...

nice job McArdle. Well said.