Monday, August 3, 2015

Farewell to a Five-Tool Player

When a five-tool player arrives in a minor-league town people often wonder how long he'll stick around.

Farewell to a Five-Tool Player


When a five-tool player arrives in a minor-league town people often wonder how long he'll stick around.

Pete Shellem stayed 23 years in Harrisburg, leaving a record of accomplishment for himself and his paper, the Patriot-News, that would ticket him for Cooperstown, if journalism had such a hall of fame. Who at bigger papers did the work that he did?

He got four people out of jail, after his stories showed their murder convictions were wrongful. He had a hand in a fifth, too. Official misconduct pissed him off.

He tracked down evidence to Leipzig, Germany, and found witnesses missed by the police.

What might be most impressive is that he did this in a conservative town while holding down a beat, the local courts. He owned his beat, by cultivating extrordinary sources, mastering records, knowing how to ask precise questions, and then having both animal instincts and a sense of outrage. 

Today's metro column is about a champion of the underdog who couldn't save himself.

I thank Mario Cattabiani of the Inquirer's Harrisburg desk for starting me off with sources and insights, and this piece, from the American Journalism Review two years ago. Shellem told him this: :

"I was always taught that reporters are supposed to be government watchdogs. The most drastic thing the government can do to an individual is charge them with a crime and send them to jail. We have a good justice system in this country, and it pisses me off to see people misuse it to run over people, most of whom are at some sort of disadvantage."



Inquirer Columnist
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

Kevin Riordan Inquirer Columnist
Daniel Rubin Inquirer Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter