Penn Senator Big Reel

Posted in Penn Fishing Gear by Penn Fishing Gear on March 15, 2012

Penn Senator Big Reel

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

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.

After a long career in Television and radio news, 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 first director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum. Now retired from the college, he still writes about Penn State sports.

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

Many reports directors know him for his more than 35-year stint on the board of the Radio-Television Stories Directors Association (now the Radio TV Digital News Association), including 22 years as its treasurer.

He's shaken by the scandal, but he also believes that the press has unfairly blackened the whole institution with their "rush to judgment, the supposition, the innuendo, the ridiculous commentary based essentially on a grand jury report that is yet to be proven in the court of law."

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

I know the horrible things are alleged to have happened with those children sicken you. But My opinion is that on a journalistic level, you're confounded by the cover.

Concern about the coverage is nothing compared to the obvious concern all Penn Staters have for the victims of kid abuse and their children, and I mean that sincerely.

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

Now the various sanctimonious, self-serving, second-guessing critics in the media and the naive, blood-thirsty public they incite and influence have made Penn State symbolic of all that is bad in the American culture that's until the media moves on to another shark fest, leaving in its wake an entire life taint of Penn Confirm that will never go away no matter what the ultimate truth may be.

I'm worn out disagreeing, discussing and thinking about everything that has occurred to Penn State, to me, my folks and many of my pals in the last couple of weeks, and it's tough to accept everything reported this far by the grand jury. Furthermore, it is even more hard to believe Joe Paterno was so morally deficient as his millions of baying knockers in the media and outside it proclaim. It is so out of keeping with character of the man.

As for [Athletic Director] Tim Curley, I have met many liars in my life particularly in academia and I cannot believe Tim is a liar and morally deficient. OK, I understand. I and hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of others were fooled by Sandusky. Hence as to Joe and Tim, we shall see, won't we?

Hence after all 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 wounds me the most, besides what may 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 delicate of others, to get every side of the story, never to presume, and to not interject my private or political sentiments into any story.

I was also shown how to be careful of the personal agendas of sources as well as my personal, to be cautious of whom to trust, to be skeptical but realistic, to withstand the enticement to be first without first assuring you have it right, and to never report a rumour because you'll believe it to be correct. My, how idealistic and old-fashioned.

Perhaps you don't see it being so close and private to this story, but this is what a large amount of folk 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 never expected journalism to fall to this level of irresponsibility and shameful, malignant depth that it has in the last twenty 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'm abashed, embarrassed and I'm angry at how a huge group of the media has reported and analyzed this story with such a pile-on mindset. The haste to judgment, the speculation, the innuendo, the outrageous commentary based basically on a grand jury report that still has to be proven in the court of law. It has already spoiled the position of many of us as well as Penn State College and the whole State School area community.

It's abhorrent to me that a large slice of the media and the general public has already made up its mind without waiting for all of the facts to come out through the court process that Joe Paterno is the ultimate villain here for what he probably did or did not do not Jerry Sandusky and that Penn State and anybody even tangentially connected with Penn State is responsible for what occurred. The criticism is vicious and most of all, so self-righteous. Not only the scurrilous web sites, where you might expect it, but supposed "legitimate media" websites also. If you would like more examples, read and see them on the Internet yourself.

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

For the record, the first I heard about Sandusky's claimed and I keep on employing that word as I was first instructed to do in journalism school child abuse was in mid-June of 2009 when I was volunteering for the yearly fund-raising Second Mile golf tournament. I did not know Jerry well, but I had been around him at golf competitions and I had interviewed him 2 times.

I was more mystified than startled. I can remember. I revealed, "Jerry??? You have to be kidding!" I knew nothing of what was then the two reported events in 1998 and 2002, and like others I was surprised 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 reporters did some good solid reporting on this. But why didn't this story come out earlier?

There are three reporters who were on it. Sara Ganim, once the crime journalist for the Centre Daily Times, who broke the first public news of the investigation after she had continued on to the Harrisburg Patriot-News ; Gary Sinderson, a vet "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 School radio stations WRSC and ESPNRadio1450. He helped Ganim in her first job fresh out of Penn Nation's journalism program in May 2008. You do not hear much about Pat as he stiffed it from brain cancer at the age of 42 in early July but he was deep into the story.

Ganim looks like a reversion to the journalism of my youth, and based mostly on what I have noted, she appears to have more judgment and street smarts than lots of her older, more experienced media peers in Pennsylvania and nationally. She's just twenty-four and must be somewhat overpowered with a story like this. I just hope she does not slip into the sloppiness that frequently infects other young reporters who are overtaken by their ego when they end up on top of a giant nationwide story.

On this Sandusky story, I call Ganim, Sinderson and Boland "The Three Musketeers." They did not share all their information, but like many writers somewhere else they often assisted on their research. It's not surprising that Ganim has been the front runner in informing the general public of this story. Paper correspondents and many Television hacks, particularly in the major markets, can do that. Sinderson and Boland were hampered by the medium they were in, the range of needs dictated by their specific roles mixed with the need to get folks to talk in public on air, disguising their faces or voices when necessary. That restrictions lots of things.

Sinderson is my kind of old-time reporter, and he's not your average cameraman or videographer. It was Sinderson who first discovered the grand jury's report was posted on the Web that fateful Friday, November. 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 journalists 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 purported grave misdemeanours ; of not informing the general public earlier than this past spring of the enquiry ; and, most egregious of all, of not reporting the unproven rumors that were swirling around the community.

Yet, check it out. 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 6 comments from Internet readers at the time two of them doubtful. Now, people have gone back to read it and there are a lot more comments now. But Ganim has said publicly she was surprised by all this absence of interest,writes

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