State Capitol newsroom briefly loses a veteran

Brad Bumsted (seated) talks with Pennlive reporter Jan Murphy (left) and Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis (right) on Friday, his last day as a state Capitol for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Brad Bumsted (seated) talks with Pennlive reporter Jan Murphy (left) and Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis (right) on Friday, his last day as a state Capitol for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you visit the 110-year-old state Capitol and walk up the grand marble Rotunda steps you will see a darkened room labeled “Newspaper Correspondents.”

The sign is a little dated for the 21st century. But it points to the partitioned offices of print, television and online reporters who cover state government and work under the quasi-cooperative moniker of the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association.

On Friday, our association said goodbye to one its most senior reporters, Brad Bumsted of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bumsted, 65, packed up after taking a financial buyout package offered by his company, Trib Total Media.

Then a couple weeks later, our association said hello to him again. Shortly after leaving the tribune-Review, Bumsted was hired by LNP Media Group to serve as its bureau chief.

It’s a good thing, too. He really didn’t want to leave what is left of the business. The thrill of the story chase still thrives in him, the pressure of deadline still drives him and the specter of corruption that hangs over the Capitol still haunts him.

But consumers’ changing media tastes, which have lowered newspaper revenue, forced him out of the Tribune-Review, which in late November stopped publishing a print version of its Pittsburgh edition.

Bumsted, a York native, began his journalism career with Gannet co. as an Allegheny County Courthouse reporter in 1977. In 1980 he started his government reporting career with the company, covering Pennsylvania, Florida and Washington, D.C politics. In 1998, the Tribune-Review hired him to cover Harrisburg.

This is a reporter who in the early 1990s hand-tabulate a Chambersburg lawmaker’s expenses and then drove in his own car to figure out the lawmaker was taking circuitous routes to the Capitol to collect extra mileage, hotel and meal reimbursements from taxpayers.

This is a reporter who in 2014 broke the story about porn emails shared among government employees and found on servers belonging to the attorney general’s office.

This is a reporter who chronicled more than a century of political corruption in two books, “Keystone Corruption” and “Keystone Corruption Continued.”

Through it all, this was a reporter who treated governors, lawmakers and other public officials with the respect their titles demanded and willingly mentored journalism interns in the summer.

In short, Bumsted was a veteran who will be missed among the dwindling number of reporters left in the Capitol.

—Steve Esack

(Originally published on The Morning Call’s Capitol Ideas blog. Updated here on Nov. 30, 2016.)