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 ExpertiseIf 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.
BiasAs 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 MoreGanim 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 storiesSara 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.