Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Lisa Mascaro, the Sun’s Capitol Hill correspondent, has been chosen by her peers as the nation’s top congressional correspondent.
The honor, the David Lynch Memorial Regional Reporting Award, is given to a newspaper reporter whose work provides an understanding of the inner workings of Congress and explains how its actions affect a local community.
Mascaro received the award Wednesday night at the Washington Press Club’s 64th annual congressional dinner, attended by more than 800 journalists, elected officials and members of Congress and the diplomatic corps. She distinguished herself with reporting on the Nevada congressional delegation “and for work that explored the human side of the Capitol,” the judges said.
Among Mascaro’s entries was a story reflecting on her first year on Capitol Hill: “Washington even has the redolence of history — the Capitol smells like the church hall on spaghetti dinner night when we were kids. No sooner are you making the day’s first walk between the House and the Senate than the Nixon-era lunch menu wafts through the halls. Fried chicken. Fish. More mayonnaise than anyone needs. It always seems more appropriate for a junior high cafeteria than the legislative seat of the world’s leading democracy.”
Here’s how she opened a story about a Yucca Mountain hearing: “Let’s be honest. There was no real news at the Senate’s big Yucca Mountain hearing Wednesday. No upturned scientific fact. No shocking political flip-flop. No government admission to forever alter the course of the debate. But boy, was the theater compelling.”
This, from her profile of Rep. Shelly Berkley: “For a lawmaker who embodies Vegas with glittery pizazz — which last week included hot pink sunglasses to match a Dana Buchman blazer to match fuchsia manicured nails — Berkley’s power and prestige are more subtle statements ... She has carved a niche with her ability to nudge and noodle her peers to deliver votes, all the while willing to cede the limelight.”
Mascaro joined the Sun and was assigned to its Washington bureau in May 2006. She came from the Los Angeles Daily News, where she was an assistant city editor and, before that, covered transportation in Southern California.
The award has been presented annually since 2000 in memory of David Lynch, a longtime Washington correspondent who died in 1998. The judges were selected by a committee of reporters that credentials the 1,800 daily newspaper reporters who cover Congress.
Her work was judged alongside entries from the Associated Press, Baltimore Sun, (Portland) Oregonian, (New Orleans) Times Picayune, (Hartford, Conn.) Courant, and Gannett News Service, among others.
The Washington Press Club Foundation promotes excellence in journalism and supports journalism scholarships, primarily for women and minorities.