Most reporters who break legendary, life-changing stories get movies made in their honor, or at least a little personal attention and recognition, especially in this era of personal branding. So it's shocking to me that it took a Glamour profile to introduce me to Sara Ganim, the reporter who broke the Penn State sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky and his Second Mile charity — inarguably one of the biggest stories of 2011 — when she was barely out of undergrad.
Ganim first heard rumors that Sandusky molested young boys in 2009, while working her first job out of college at a tiny newspaper, after a source mentioned off-handedly that one kid had just come out against the famed football coach. (Note to self and all other reporters: always ask "Anything else going on?" after you finish routine interviews.) As a Penn State alum and football fan, Ganim was familar with the university's online message boards, which she scoured for information. She kept working on the story after joining Harrisburg's The Patriot-News in January 2011, and finally found enough people in the fiercely loyal football community that were willing to spill their secrets. Ganim published her first story detailing Sandusky's grand jury hearing and other molestation accusations around this time last year, but it took the national news media seven months to take the story seriously — after Sandusky was arrested and publicly charged with sexual abuse.
ESPN later said, "With the biggest staff of sports journalists in the world, ESPN should have been leading the charge to ask tough questions and shed light on this scandal. Instead, it was the tiny Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, out in front of the journalism pack." But how come Ganim herself hasn't gotten more attention? Okay, fine, so she became the youngest person ever to win the Sidney Award for socially conscious journalism in December, which isn't too shabby — but it's awesome to see more mainstream publications like Glamour finally paying attention to her accomplishments. Keep it coming!
Image via SaraGanim.com