Praising Newspapers, Praising the Newsroom’s Next Generation: Meet Sara Ganim

Sara Ganim has a police scanner on her nightstand. She is one of those hard-working Millenials who caught the reporting bug in high school, worked for her college paper, wrote freelance pieces for her hometown paper and was an AP intern. Then she joined a newspaper with a reporting staff that might have reached 10 in the glory days but now numbers about six, the Centre Daily Times. One of the smallest McClatchy newspapers, it is edited by Bob Heisse, a skilled veteran with deep local roots and a side passion for rodeos.

While covering crime for the CDT, Ganim first heard about child sex abuse investigation touching Penn State. Early this year, she moved to the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, a Newhouse paper edited by David Newhouse. She continued to chase down leads, interviewing dozens of sources.In March, Ganim and the Patriot-News broke the story. Her lede: Penn State football legend Jerry Sandusky is the subject of a grand jury investigation into allegations that he indecently assaulted a teenage boy. The national media may not have noticed the developments then, but they certainly would in November, when the charges were filed. By then Ganim’s work showed she knew every detail and had access to family members and others that would keep her readers on top of fast-moving developments.
This morning, Ganim published a step-back piece that went through the entire timeline: Who knew what about Jerry Sandusky?
This is not, however, just the story of a young reporter who worked hard and shifted the axis of power in Pennsylvania, in college football and at a great university. It 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.  In Manhattan, Advance is Conde Nast — glittery titles, glossy paper, gleaming office tower. To much of the country — in Springfield MA, in Cleveland OH, in New Orleans LA, and in Harrisburg PA, Advance is the local Newhouse paper. This is their moment, a time when that side of the house is in the spotlight.
Penn State had Paterno, Sandusky, Spanier, Curley and Shultz. Penn State also had Sara Ganim. She learned to be a reporter there. Ganim graduated in 2008 with a journalism degree. Follow Ganim on Twitter. Look at her personal websitehttp://saraganim.com/
The first image is about a charity honoring a former colleague. Look at her “about me” page:

Everything I do, every story I report, is on multiple platforms.

It’s not unusual for me – in a single day – to take photos, shoot and edit video, write copy, update the web, post to Twitter, and package radio stories.

I can tell stories in many ways, but at my core I am simply a reporter.

I have a police scanner on my nightstand. I fall to sleep and wake up to the morning news. I work 60-hour weeks digging and investigating, chatting up sources, and peeling back layers until I find amazing stories.

She has talked to the mothers of Sandusky victims, to a sister. She is everywhere. In my book, she’s earned every journalism accolade we can give her. The cool part is that she did it through hard work, against a hometown mindset that would put many reporters off the trail . Ganim combines old-fashioned dogged reporter the tools of the modern Swiss-Army-knife do-everything reporter.

Oh, if you have a chance, notice the dates on her resume. Last day at Centre Daily Times, Jan. 18. First day at Patriot News, Jan. 20.
There aren’t many heroes in the Penn State story. Sara is my hero.
Is there a Sara Ganim in your newsroom? Send a note about your hero to CarlLavin@gmail.com
 or add a comment below.
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