May 23, 2008

The 10 Best Political Journalists in the State of New Jersey
Harry Hurley is ranked # 7


The 10 Best Political Journalists in New Jersey

by Donald Sico

May 20, 2008

1.         Michael Aron
– When New Jersey Network’s “Senior Political Correspondent” walks into the room in which you are holding a press conference, you know that you have made it.  It makes no difference if anyone else shows as he automatically adds stature to your event.  Aron has been about the business of covering the state’s political and governmental happenings for so long that he can probably do it blind-folded and standing on his head.


2.         Paul Mulshine
– It is a testament to the political strength of the Star Ledger that in an era of Democratic and Liberal dominance in the state, the words of a conservative columnist still matter – and matter a lot.  What columnist Paul Mulshine writes matters not just because he is read by the insiders, but because what he says makes sense most of the time. Mulshine has what most journalists only dream of – influence.


3.         Bob Ingle
– The Gannett New Jersey Trenton Bureau Chief is an old curmudgeon (he will tell you that himself) and he wrote a bestseller with reporter Sandy McClure about the state’s corruption addiction entitled “The Soprano State.”  Repeat that sentence to yourself and you will understand why “fearlessness” is a top qualifier to being a successful and important political journalist in a “Garden State” filled with weeds and snakes. 


4.         Nick Acocella
– I have said it before and I will say it again – I don’t care how many shades of red New Jersey’s top political junkie, creator, editor and reporter of Politifax turns – no one, and I mean no one – is covering the inside workings of politics in the state like Nick Acocella.  I can’t even begin to imagine how many political operatives he must have to talk to for how many hours each and every week to glean the useable kernels of truth and meaning that make into the weekly publication.  He is amazing.


5.         Jim McQueeny and Laura Jones
– Not everyone gets to see them, particularly in the Southern part of the state, but News 12’s “Power & Politics” team gives New Jersey a news and politics show that is generally reserved for the national stage.  Just 30 minutes, each and every week, can get you caught up.  McQueeny and Jones, both New Jersey journalists of some note, have combined to bring our state a show that is the envy of our neighbors.


6.         Eric Scott
– It is a narrow tightrope to walk and upon which to balance – sorting out that which qualifies as hard nose news reporting on the goings-on in Trenton versus that which feeds into the latest rants and grumblings of the morning and afternoon show hosts which drive ratings.  Eric Scott walks it comfortably and professionally at the state’s foremost political radio station – New Jersey 101.5. You can trust that what Eric reports at the top of the hour has not been unfairly influenced by what is being said during the rest of the hour.


7.         Harry Hurley
– I am not even certain that this WIBG-AM radio personality who has been called by some “the Rush Limbaugh of Atlantic City” even qualifies under a strict definition of “journalist,” but Harry Hurley’s reach and influence extends beyond the confines of the shore casino city.  It is rare that a local radio guy who cannot be heard by 90 percent of the state’s population gets to matter.  Harry does.


8.         Herb Jackson
– We miss Herb Jackson in New Jersey, but at least someone we trust is keeping an eye on the sideshow that is Washington for us while we keep our eyes focused on the shenanigans taking place under the “big tent” that is Trenton. Jackson’s “Capital Games” blog is a must read for anyone in the state who understands how important it is to keep track of the assemblymen and women, senators and scientists we send to Washington to represent us.


9.         Jim Hooker
– Who would have thunk that the Trenton Times reporter many of us grabbed a smoke with outside the back door of the State House would go on to become the most important day-to-day broadcast journalist in the state?  But that is exactly what has happened with New Jersey Network’s Jim Hooker, who is all grown up now and covering the Golden Dome like a blanket.


10.       Monica Yant Kinney
Someone has to speak for the little people and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney does it well.  Give Monica your “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” and she will give life to their voices. It is a “badge of honor” for Monica that she is known in some political circles as Monica “Rant” Kinney because it means she is being heard – more importantly, she is being listened to.


Donald Sico
is the former Executive Director of the Assembly Republican Office, having served as Chief of Staff to Speakers Chuck Haytaian and Jack Collins.  A former reporter and editor, he is currently in partnership with his wife, Joyce, with Donald Sico & Co. LLC. You can reach him by emailing him at dsiconj@gmail.com

(Editor's Note: The views expressed are solely those of the author, who is also responsible for the content of the column.)

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