Respected Pa. political journalist Peter DeCoursey dies at 52

    One of Pennsylvania’s most-respected political reporters died this week after losing battles with lung and pancreatic cancer.

    Peter DeCoursey, 52, spent nearly two decades flagging down lawmakers and governors as a reporter and columnist for the Harrisburg Patriot-News.


    As his notoriety grew, he regularly appeared on local and national television programs, including CNN.

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    “The quality of the Fourth Estate in Pennsylvania is very, very high, and Pete was a leader among the journalists in this day,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

    Madonna first met DeCoursey during his Patriot-News days. The two would often chat about state politics for stories and otherwise.

    DeCoursey was also a frequent guest on Madonna’s television show, “Pennsylvania Newsmakers.”

    “He was just great at finding perceptions and angles that other people often didn’t get, and he would come up with these interesting nuggets that often made his stories very, very interesting and compelling, ” said Madonna.

    Fellow reporter Scott Detrow befriended DeCoursey while reporting in Harrisburg for WHYY/NewsWorks.

    He said DeCoursey worked tirelessly and really took the time to get to know his sources, even those he sometimes torched in his columns and articles.

    “So many reporters treat politicians like cartoons and cardboard cutouts and keep them at arm’s length. And Pete taught me how important it was to talk to them and socialize with them and get to know them so you can understand their goals and their motivations,” said Detrow.

    “He was able to get his finger on what was happening ahead of everyone else because of that.”

    Many politicians DeCoursey covered – Democrats and Republicans – also respected his dedication and approach to the trade.

    “Pete DeCoursey brought a level of distinction and intelligence to reporting that will be missed. I enjoyed our conversations,” Gov. Tom Corbett tweeted Wednesday.

    Before his death, DeCoursey was the bureau chief for the online news service Capitolwire.

    DeCoursey, a father of two, died Wednesday at his parents’ home in Philadelphia. Funeral services will be held Jan. 11 in Philadelphia.

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