Jim Siegel, a longtime Ohio Statehouse reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, died Tuesday at the age of 46.
Siegel was a native of eastern Ohio, and has covered the legislature since arriving at the newspaper in 2005. Like many of his stories, Siegel's final Dispatch article — a preview of the Ohio Senate budget — appeared on the front page of Tuesday's paper.
Siegel is also a familiar voice and face to WOSU listeners, appearing frequently on All Sides With Ann Fisher. He was also a regular guest on WOSU TV's Columbus On The Record, most recently on last Friday's panel.
"Jim was a newsman’s newsman — a professional who treated everyone with kindness and respect, even when pressing lawmakers on difficult questions," said Dispatch Editor Alan Miller in a statement to the paper. "And state officials treated him with respect because they knew that he was doing his job and that he would always be fair."
Indeed, Ohio lawmakers at all levels of government have paid their respects to Siegel.
"Jim was one of the most respected members of the Statehouse news corp," tweeted Gov. Mike DeWine late Tuesday night. "Jim had a gift for explaining the complexities of state government and the legislative process to all his readers. I will miss his insight and his reporting."
"He was a true professional. His questions were tough, but always fair," tweeted Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. "He always seemed to have scoop that no one else had, thanks to the relationships he built on both a professional and a personal level."
In a statement, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said Siegel was “a beloved figure on Capitol Square. I’m proud to have called Jim a friend.”
Siegel is survived by his wife and two teenage sons.
Below are more tributes to Siegel from his fellow journalists.
I can’t begin to express the sadness I’m feeling at the loss of the great Jim Siegel. The front page won’t be the same without the even-handed skill and insights of @phrontpage. Sending condolences to his family, his first loves.
— Ann Fisher (@annfisherwosu) June 12, 2019
This is just horrible, terrible news. Jim was a funny, sharp, caring, genuine guy who was also a great journalist. My heart goes out to his family. https://t.co/mK0B29WHwi
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) June 12, 2019
A very nice guy gone way too soon. If you needed someone to explain the machinations of state gov in a compelling way, Jim was the one.
— Steve Brown (@radio_reporter) June 12, 2019
Jim Siegel’s smile could light up any room. I’ll miss that smile and I’ll miss the amazing example he set as a person, family man, and journalist. But that example will live on in the many lives he impacted https://t.co/wqLEOAKm6x @phrontpage
— Andy Chow (@andy_chow) June 12, 2019
Peace to Jim’s family and Dispatch colleagues. Jim was a great journalist. We’ll miss his ‘straight shooter’ style on WOSU. I’ll miss his Facebook posts showing his love and pride for his family. https://t.co/Sw7pz7pQD2
— Mike Thompson (@mthompsoncbus) June 12, 2019