Dusty McNichol, a veteran Statehouse and prize-winning reporter and an original founder of NJ Spotlight, died suddenly yesterday. His passing leaves a huge void for those who care if public officials are held accountable for their actions. He was 54 years old.
Dusty, whose tenacity for digging out stories was belied by his effervescent good humor, was widely regarded as one of the best and fairest journalists in New Jersey. His reporting on the resignation of former Gov. Jim McGreevey helped win the Star-Ledger a Pulitzer Prize. He and a colleague at The Record were finalists for a Pulitzer for their series examining the business friendly practices during the term of former Gov. Christie Whitman. He also shared in a 1982 Pulitzer at the Kansas City Star.
After leaving the Star-Ledger at the end of 2008, Dusty developed the concept of NJ Spotlight as an issue-based website devoted to covering stories mostly ignored by the mainstream media. His reputation, along that of co-founder, John Mooney, helped attract the initial foundation funding that breathed life into the venture. Before the site was launched in May 2009, however, Dusty was hired by Bloomberg, which had been pursuing him ever since he left the Ledger.
Even so, his advice and counsel were often sought out by Mooney, Tom Johnson and NJ Spotlight’s Managing Editor Lee Keough. After the launch, he offered valuable insight and ideas on how to make the site more successful. Meanwhile, at Bloomberg, he continued his award-winning ways. In 2010, Dusty won second place for Best Regional or State News from the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists for his Bloomberg story "Goldman Sachs Still Paid for Swaps on Redeemed Bonds."
We deeply mourn the departure of a dear friend and trusted colleague. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his devoted wife and son.
We will return tomorrow.
Services for Dusty will be held Friday, January 7
St. James Church, 115 Delaware Ave., Pennington
Visitation, 9:30 a.m.
Funeral Mass, 10:30 a.m. at St. James
Reception following at the church