Monday, February 18

Correction: Sara Ganim is NOT an investigative journalist

Sara Ganim's Pulitzer Prize was for local reporting, not investigative journalism.  In other words, if a cat was stuck in a tree in Harrisburg, no one could have covered it better than Ganim.

Ray Blehar

In Saturday's blog, I was critical of Sara Ganim for not following up on leads that she should have seen when writing her story about the missing psychology reports.   I did so because I presumed Sara was an investigative reporter.

I was wrong.

Sara Ganim's Pulitzer Prize was for "local reporting" and not "investigative journalism."  But the Pulitzer Committee still isn't off the hook for awarding the prize to Ganim.

Here's the citation:

"For a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000)."

Certainly, the Sandusky scandal was a significant issue of local concern, but the rest of the citation is a bit overstated.

Originality -- Is it Memorex or Sara Ganim?

For the most part, and in the article I evaluated, Ganim is simply writing what she was told by a source (Jerry Lauro) who has serious credibility issues.  The police report revealed he was untruthful about his knowledge of the evaluations of Victim 6.  Other articles that I will cover later, reveal a DPW employee who was unaware of the Child Protective Services Laws.

In short, Sara Ganim was little more than a tape recorder --  and then transcriber of information.

Still waiting for that first big scoop from her at CNN....

Originality -- Who was "deep throat?"

Just as in the case of Woodward and Bernstein, it is evident from a review of Ganim's articles that she had a highly placed source who could provide her with information not available to the public.  Among the information the source likely provided was:

- the name of the mother of Victim 6;
- knowledge of the Sandusky investigating grand jury;
- McQueary's handwritten statement to police;
- Dranov's grand jury testimony;
- Information about the police report and psychology reports (pre-publication);
- The name of the DPW investigator, Lauro, and police detective Ronald Schreffler.

It's pretty easy to get scoops when you are being spoon fed the best information.

Community Expertise

If Sara Ganim really had community expertise, she would have broken the story of the investigation long before March 31, 2011.

My sources told me that the Sandusky investigation was the "buzz" at the 2010 Second Mile golf tournament.  In addition, those "in the know" at the tournament stated that Sandusky would not be arrested until after the governor's race was over.

She could have done a lot more digging - as others have - about the failures of CYS and DPW in protecting children over the years.  But instead, her focus was on promoting the false narrative of a cover-up at Penn State.


As I am reviewing her Pulitzer articles, I note the same biases I pointed out in Saturday's blog.  For example, the November 17, 2011 article written about Second Mile donors spends a lot of print talking about Lloyd and Dottie Huck and Lloyd Huck's association with Merck.  But there's not a single mention of Merck CEO and current BOT member, Kenneth Frazier.

Similarly, much ink is spent on DrueAnne Schreyer, daughter of Paterno friend, Bill Schreyer (the late, former CEO of Merrill Lynch).  Yet, not a word about the donations from US Steel, whose chairman, John Surma is currently on the PSU BOT.

Also, not a word about Ira Lubert, who sat on the Board of The Second Mile from 2005 to 2008 and had donated his Greenhills property in Reading for Sandusky's Second Mile summer camps.

For the most part, the information above can be found by reading The Second Mile Annual Reports.  So, how was it that Ganim wrote of the ties between PSU, the Hucks, and the Schreyers, but not about Surma/US Steel, Frazier/Merck, and Ira Lubert?


Silent No More

Ganim wrote a review of the book, Silent No More, where she stated her reporting on the Sandusky scandal was story was 100% accurate.  As of Saturday, we all know that not to be true.

Also, Silent No More blows apart some of the reports made by Ganim about the 2008 to 2011 investigation of Sandusky, such as the discovery of the 1998 PSU investigation occurring in June 2009 as opposed to Ganim's version of the police file being discovered in early January 2011.

Ganim was critical of author Gillum for stating he didn't know the reason why then Centre County District Attorney Michael Madiera referred the case to the Attorney General's office, citing press reports about Madiera's conflict of interest.

But again, Ganim missed an opportunity to investigate why Madiera sent it to the AG and not back to the Clinton County District Attorney -- which would have been the more logical course of action.  In short, she just went with rationale given by Madiera and apparently didn't think to ask about the alternative.

Additionally, had Ganim reviewed the CPSL, she would have learned that Clinton County CYS should have referred their investigation to the Department of Public Welfare, rather than conducting the investigation themselves (because of Sandusky's association with The Second Mile making him an "agent" of the county).

Missing the bigger stories

Sara Ganim became a media darling, appearing on the Sunday morning talk shows for her coverage of the Sandusky scandal.  In a press account about her winning the Pulitzer Prize, she stated:

"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."

The "amazing" story about her coverage of the Sandusky scandal is how little "digging" she actually did and how many things she got wrong.

In fact, she missed the bigger stories about this scandal or, at best, covered them superficially.

Those stories are about the sad state of child protection in Pennsylvania and the bungled Sandusky investigations in 1998 and 2008 to 2011.

But she and the Patriot News weren't about to write those stories.

You don't want to bite the hand that feeds you.


  1. IMHO, Sara Ganim is the WORST excuse for a journalist and PSU alumnus...Wonder if WE could get the University to rescind her diploma?...

  2. I think Ms. Ganim exposed herself for what she truly is on 3 occasions:

    1) If you have the opportunity to watch the interview she did after winning the Pulitzer (I believe it was the open forum with other "journalists"), she talks about being a crime reporter early in her career. She laughs her way through talking about a fire that killed several Amish kids.

    2) Her response to "Silent No More". Her "review" was petty and vindictive

    3) Her tweets yesterday about THON funds. 5 minutes on Google answered all her slanted questions, which leads me to believe she was just urinating in the punch bowl to stir up animosity towards Penn State.

    If our BoT had a backbone, they would openly question why one of our more "infamous" alums has done so much damage to the reputation of the school.

  3. No wonder she doesn't have any background on fact finding and true investigative reporting " I fall to sleep and wake up to the morning news"

  4. Missing the big story... exactly my thought from the beginning. Sexual abuse of children was certainly not a new concern in the late 90s. With the other high-profile, large-scale suspected offences occurring (e.g., by priests, a BBC personality, scout leaders, camp counselors, and other coaches), the fascinating story to research was the commonality among these suspected offences. Was it an issue of laws, culture, power, economy, spirituality, communication, education...??? Now here was (and still is) the intriguing question for me. An actual root cause, or causes. Perhaps one result of the dogged persistence of you folks to find the truth of the Sandusky case will be a larger effort to finally put an end to child sexual victimization. Perhaps, thanks to you Penn Staters, a baby born in 2013 will be at dramatically lower risk of this than those who came before. Thank you all for your efforts. YOU are Penn State to me.

    1. rdk,
      With the Catholic church, they knew of the abuse and paid victims to be silent. The Boy Scouts had a long running problem and they stayed silent as long as possible. In both of these cases, you had many, many sexual deviates in these organizations preying on children.

      The PSU case is different in that there was one insidious child molester that kept his crimes hidden.

      That said, I know that I have pushing for reforms and will continue to do investigative work about Pennsylvania's failing child protection system. Look for articles in mid-March.

      I think the Paterno family did the right thing by hiring Jim Clemente to educate caring individuals (that excludes most of the media) about how to protect children from the "nice guy, pillar of the community" molester.

      It is my hope that a newly revamped BOT will provide real leadership on the issue -- and not just build a building and throw money at the worthless child protection/sexual abuse organizations (like RAINN).

  5. Ray
    Why do people continue to write unsubstantiated articles without facts? I have tried to stay up on most of what pertains to this but find it very hard to not wonder if any of these people read anything. One Question?
    Has anyone, except the three most vocal said anything?
    Erickson, Surma, etc.

    1. If by the three most vocal, you mean Anthony, Ryan, and Adam, the answer is mostly no. Al Clemens did suggest a "re-examination" of the Freeh Report (though he mis-spoke, because it would be the first examination, not a re-examination).

      The rest of the BOT have been silent. Frazier, Eckel, Peetz, Dambly, and the others who hired Freeh don't have anything to say in defense of they?

  6. Sara Ganim seems to be a bitter woman with a stick up her ass.

    1. I disagree, a bitter woman? I'd put her in the category of a young, dumb, full of cum, category, not "old and bitter." She thinks she knows more than the rest of the world, but doesn't, not bitter. Bitter is something completely different.

  7. Thanks, Ray. I keep waiting for one of the leaders, miss print, to say something in defense of what they have done to PSU and JoePa..

  8. In case you haven't seen this...NCAA on the hot seat:

  9. Cowherd seems to think the number of interviews speaks to Freeh's credibility despite Spanier being the only one among the key players to speak to Freeh's people. Who did Freeh interview?

  10. The number of e-mails "reviewed" or the number of interviews conducted is irrelevant and extraneous information. For a number of reasons:

    1) The baseline number is misleading. Did they REALLY read 3.5 Million e-mails or did they just have an algorithm scanning and searching for keywords like "Jerry"? When you do the math, you quickly realize that Freeh didn't have the manpower to read all of the e-mails. Likewise, who cares how many interviews they conducted if they didn't speak to the key witnesses. I could interview 1000 people on the street and all it does is boost the baseline number - it tells me nothing about the quality of the content.

  11. 2) It doesn't matter HOW MANY interviews you conducted or e-mails you read if you cherry-picked the data. If you conducted 1000 interviews, and 998 were positive but you just included transcripts of the 2 negative ones (Vicky Triponey for example) then you are deliberately cherry-picking data. Frankly, that is unethical especially if you are unwilling to share the raw data.

    Likewise - how many e-mails may have exonerated Paterno/Schultz/Curley but were not included? We'll never know since only Freeh (and hopefully Schultz) had access to the raw data.

    It's not unlike the march to the Iraq War and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. "They've seen the same evidence that we've seen" does NOT mean the same thing as "They've seen ALL of the evidence that we've seen."