Penn Deep Reel

Posted in Penn Fishing Gear by Penn Fishing Gear on February 20, 2012

Penn Deep Reel

Lou Prato's Been Around Big News Stories All His Life And He's Around One Now The Jerry Sandusky Sex-Abuse Scandal At Penn State.

Lou Prato's been around major news stories all of his life and he is around one now the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal at Penn State.

After a long career in TV and radio stories, he moved to State College to rejoin the Penn State community, where he earned his journalism degree in 1959. After writing The Penn State Soccer Encyclopedia, he became the 1st director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum. Now retired from the university, he writes about Penn State sports.

Prato's media career includes working and leading TV and radio newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Dayton, Ohio, as well as work with the Associated Press. His educational credentials include 12 years as head of Northwestern University's broadcast graduate program in Washington. For years , he used to be a correspondent and contributing writer for the North American Journalism Review.

Many news directors know him for his more than 35-year stint on the board of the Radio-Television News Directors Organisation (now the Radio Television Digital News Organisation), including twenty-two years as its treasurer.

He is shaken by the scandal, but he also believes that the national press has unfairly blackened the whole institution with their "rush to judgment, the conjecture, the innuendo, the outrageous commentary based primarily on a grand jury report that still has to be proved in the court of law."

Never one to mince his words, he talked about his feelings with Contributing Editor P.J. Bednarski in a chain of emails, excerpted below.

I know the horrid things are alleged to have happened with those kids sicken you. But I know that on a journalistic level, you're confounded by some of the cover.

Concern about the cover is nothing in comparison to the most obvious concern all Penn Staters have for the sufferers of child abuse and their children, and I mean that sincerely.

But the way the majority of the media has continued to portray Penn State, the people who work and live here, the students and faculty, the university's football team and even our alumni base, one might get the idea this whole area is inhabited by a horde of evil, heartless child sex abusers. One cable Tv talk show host called the Second Mile "a molestation farm." Come on!

Now the many sanctimonious, self-serving, second-guessing critics in the media and the naive, blood-thirsty public they stir up and influence have made Penn State symbological of all that's bad in the American culture that is until the media moves on to another shark fest, leaving in its wake an entire life taint of Penn Say will never depart regardless of what the ultimate truth may be.

I'm worn out arguing, debating and pondering everything that has happened to Penn State, to me, my folks and plenty of my pals in the last couple of weeks, and it is hard to accept everything reported thus far by the grand jury. Additionally, it is even more difficult to believe Joe Paterno was so morally deficient as his millions of baying knockers in the media and outside it announce. It's so out of keeping with character of the man.

As for [Athletic Director] Tim Curley, I have met many liars in my life especially in academia and I will not believe Tim is a liar and morally deficient. OK, I understand. I and hundreds, if not thousands, of others were duped by Sandusky. So , as to Joe and Tim, we shall see, won't we?

So , after all of these years, this has taught you something new about the media?

I will never watch, hear, and read the news or watch or hear talk shows as I had before.

You know what injures me the most, besides what could have happened to those boys? I was once a part of the media, a journalism graduate who was taught not only to be fair, balanced and objective, but to be sensitive of others, to get every side of the story, never to assume, and to not interject my personal or political principles into any story.

I was also taught to be careful of the private agendas of sources as well as my own, to be suspicious of whom to trust, to be skeptical but practical, to resist the enticement to be first without first assuring you have it right, and to never report a rumor just because you may believe it to be accurate. My, how idealistic and old-fashioned.

Maybe you don't see it being so close up and personal to this story, but this is what lots of folks would say media do with stories like these all the time.

Look, there were times in my career I did not meet my private lofty standards. That bothers me to this day. But I didn't expect journalism to fall to this level of irresponsibility and shameful, malicious depth that it has in the last 20 years. I'm sure there are many thousands still working in the newsrooms of this country who share my view.

There has been good reporting on the nation's level, but I am ashamed, embarrassed and I am irritated at how a large contingent of the media has reported and analyzed this story with such a pile-on mentality. The rush to judgment, the speculation, the innuendo, the outrageous commentary based basically on a grand jury report that is yet to be proved in the court of law. It has already ruined the position of many of us as well as Penn State University and the whole State School area community.

It's offensive to me that a giant chunk of the media and the public has already made up its mind without waiting for all of the facts to come out thru the court process that Joe Paterno is the ultimate villain here for what he did or failed to do not Jerry Sandusky and that Penn State and anyone even tangentially connected with Penn State is answerable for what happened. The criticism is vicious and most of all, so self-righteous. Not just the scurrilous internet sites, where you'd expect it, but so-called "legitimate media" websites too. If you would like more examples, read and see them on the Internet yourself.

Well, you worked for the athletic programme. Didn't you hear anything?

For the record, the 1st I heard about Sandusky's claimed and I continue to use that word as I was first trained to do in journalism college kid abuse was in mid-June of 2009 when I was volunteering for the yearly fund-raising Second Mile golf tournament. I didn't know Jerry well, but I had been around him at golf tournaments and I had interviewed him a couple of times.

I was more mystified than startled. I remember. I announced, "Jerry??? You have got to be kidding!" I knew nothing of what was then the two reported events in 1998 and 2002, and like others I was shocked by the 23-page report to the grand jury. It's sickening and hard to read but I did.

I know you suspect some local journalists did some good solid reporting on this. But why didn't this story come out sooner?

There are three journalists who were on it. Sara Ganim, once the crime journalist for the Centre Daily Times, who broke the first public reports of the inquiry after she had continued on to the Harrisburg Patriot-News ; Gary Sinderson, a veteran "one man band" reporter-photographer for WJAC in Johnstown, who knows the Pennsylvania court system and this community inside out ; and Pat Boland, the reporter-newsman for the local dual-ownership State College radio stations WRSC and ESPNRadio1450. He helped Ganim in her first job fresh out of Penn State's journalism program in May 2008. You do not hear much about Pat as he died of brain cancer at the age of 42 in early July but he was deep into the tale.

Ganim looks like a reversion to the journalism of my youth, and based on what I have noted, she seems to have more judgment and street smarts than plenty of her older, more experienced media peers in Pennsylvania and nationally. She is just twenty-four and must be somewhat overwhelmed with a story like this. I just hope that she does not slip into the sloppiness that often infects other young reporters who are overtaken by their ego when they find themselves on top of a big national story.

On this Sandusky story, I call Ganim, Sinderson and Boland "The Three Musketeers." They did not share all their info, but like many reporters some place else they often cooperated on their research. It's not surprising that Ganim has been the leader in informing the public of this story. Paper reporters and many TV reporters, especially in the major markets, can do that. Sinderson and Boland were hampered by the medium they were in, the myriad of obligations dictated by their categorical jobs mixed with the need to get people to chat in public on air, disguising their faces or voices when necessary. That limits lots of things.

Sinderson is my kind of old-time hack, and he's not your average cameraman or videographer. It was Sinderson who first discovered the grand jury's report was posted online that ordained Friday, Nov. 4 placed there one day too early by mistake and then he posted it on his station's website, and then he surprised Ganim with the latest news.

But these reporters must have known a lot was going on long before November.

Outsiders have was critical of the local media and regional media for not exposing more of Sandusky's alleged grave misdemeanours ; of not informing the public sooner than this past spring of the enquiry ; and, most egregious of all, of not reporting the unsubstantiated rumours that were swirling around the community.

Yet, look it up. Ganim's first Patriot-News story of the inquiry was on March 31. It barely made a ripple even in Harrisburg and State School. Check out Ganim's initial story that will still be found on the Internet. There were just six comments from Net readers at the time two of them skeptical. Now, people have gone back to read it and there are a load more comments now. But Ganim has announced in public she was shocked by all this absence of interest,writes

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