By: Nu Yang
One of the most talked-about stories of last year was the molestation charges filed against former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The story exploded in mainstream media outlets following the grand jury investigation in November, but crime reporter Sara Ganim had broken the news nearly eight months earlier in the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News.
The 24-year-old reporter has only been with the paper for a year, but her newspaper career began when she was a high school sophomore. She graduated from Penn State in 2008 with a journalism degree and has written for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., The Associated Press, and Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.
But it’s her work at the Patriot-News that has garnered her national attention.
“I did not expect this kind of reaction,” Ganim said. “I was just focused on presenting the facts and treating it like any other crime story.”
While writing about the grand jury investigation, Ganim said she was faced with a lot of “secrecy,” but she credited her paper for giving her the time she needed to “dig and knock on a lot of doors.”
Her tenacious reporting has colleagues praising her. During long working days, Ganim said it was the heartfelt compliments she received from other journalists in the industry that got her through.
Social media has also played a big part in Ganim’s reporting. “The feedback I receive on Twitter gives me a perspective on what questions (readers) have and what they are feeling. That’s been really helpful.”
As a journalist, Ganim has also learned a lot about the craft. “No matter how big the story is, basic journalism skills still apply. Respect the craft and work hard. Cultivate sources and really listen to the people.”
Despite the sensitive nature of the Penn State story, Ganim said she still hopes to take a subject that is bad and turn it into something good. “Something positive I’ve heard from the victims is that it’s inspiring more people to talk about child abuse, so a good thing can come out of this.”