Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State - Where Was the Press?

No doubt, more victims will come forward in the Penn State sex abuse scandal.  But there's someone else who desperately needs to come forward:  any journalist who tried to bring this story out but wasn't allowed by his/her news organization to pursue it.

Without question, there are journalists who had hints, who heard something from some source, who were aware there was a serious problem with Jerry Sandusky.   Just examine the series of events.

There's an eye witness to a 10-year-old boy being raped.

There's a university police investigation where the police record phone calls between a mother of one of the victims and child abuser Jerry Sandusky.

Jerry Sandusky did not fool Joe Paterno.   Paterno was told by a graduate student what Sandusky did - the grad student witnessed a 10-year-old boy being raped. 

Lots of people knew.   Do you think the grad student's dad said nothing to his buddies?  Do you think the president of Penn State went home and said nothing to his wife?  Do you think the university cops who recorded the phone conversation said nothing to anyone about the defensive coordinator of Penn State being a child abuser?  What would you do with such information?   People talk.   Lots of people knew.  Don' t you think reporters knew?    Why didn't they pursue it?

It's not unusual for the press to fail, to play cheerleader instead of reporter.  That's what happened in Columbus.   And when radio talk show host Bruce Hooley criticized Ohio State, he was fired.

But the failure of the press in Columbus simply allowed Tressel to continue cheating.

At Penn State, the failure of the press allowed something far worse to continue:  child abuse.

For the reporters out there who wanted to do something but weren't allowed, please email ( or call me (513-646-4953).  This is a story that needs to be done.   It's not just Penn State officials who need to be held accountable.

For an example of how the press should operate,  review the Summer 2006 issue of Nieman Reports, an edition dedicated to courageous reporting.   Pay attention to the article on how the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho stood up to incredible community pressure as it reported on pedophile Boy Scout leaders.   The Post Register didn't stand up for the team, it stood up for protecting children.

Where was the press in Pennsylvania during all these years of abuse? 

When journalism fails, bad things happen.

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