November 20, 2011

Harrisburg paper broke Penn State story in March; reporter calls it 'huge testament to local news'

Uncovering the story of a former Penn State football coach's alleged rapes of boys "was all local journalism," Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter Sara Ganim told Howard Kurtz this morning on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

"Its a huge testament to local news," Ganim, a 24-year-old Penn State journalism graduate told Kurtz, who initially referred to the 71,000-circulation Advance Publications newspaper as "The News-Patriot." Ganim said, "It was all local journalism, going to my sources. ... I spent a lot of time knocking on doors and getting shooed off properties."

Ganim said the newspaper "did have some pushback" to her stories that first reported the investigation, starting March 31, but "I actually expected a lot more than we got. . . . For the most part people were happy that we were bringing this out." The stories didn't get much play beyond Pennsylvania until ex-coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted this month, perhaps because they were based on interviews with people who had testified before a grand jury, reporting that was difficult for non-local media to match, Ganim said.

The story of Sara Ganim "is also the story of a family-owned media company, Advance, of a second-generation newspaper editor, David Newhouse, of a publisher, John Kirkpatrick, who understands what a newspaper means to a community, and of a newsroom that has the deep local connections and also the courage to keep going no matter what the potential cost to its own reputation," Carl Lavin writes on his 07newsroom blog.

For Ganim's original story, click here. For her latest summary, focusing on authority figures and "What did they know and when did they know it?" go here. Her last-Sunday story about why the probe took so long is here.

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