Penn Squidder

Posted in Penn Fishing Gear by Penn Fishing Gear on March 29, 2012

Penn Squidder

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 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 news, he moved to State School 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 varsity, he 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 references include twelve years as head of Northwestern University's broadcast graduate program in Washington. For a while he was a hack 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 Stories Directors Association (now the Radio Television Digital Stories Association), including 22 years as its treasurer.

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

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

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

Concern about the coverage is nothing in comparison to the obvious concern all Penn Staters have for the subjects of kid abuse and their kids, and I mean that sincerely.

But the way almost all of the media continues to portray Penn State, the folks that work and live here, the scholars and faculty, the university's soccer team and even our alumni base, one might get it this entire area is inhabited by a horde of vicious, 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 easily fooled, blood-thirsty public they foment and influence have made Penn State symbolical of all that is bad in the North American culture that is until the media moves on to another shark fest, leaving in its wake a whole life taint of Penn Say will never depart regardless of what the ultimate truth may be.

I'm worn out disagreeing, debating and pondering everything that has happened to Penn State, to me, my folks and lots of my friends in the last few weeks, and it is hard to believe everything reported this far by the grand jury. Similarly, it is even more tricky to believe Joe Paterno was so morally deficient as his millions of baying detractors in the media and outside it proclaim. It is so out of character of the man.

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

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

I'll never watch, listen to, and read the news or watch or listen to talk shows as I had before.

You know what injures me the most, besides what might have occurred to those boys? I was 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 beliefs into any story.

I was also taught to be careful of the private agendas of sources as well as my private, to be suspicious of whom to trust, to be skeptical but pragmatic, to withstand the temptation to be first without first assuring you have it right, and to never report a rumor because you'll believe it to be correct. My, how idealistic and old-fashioned.

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

Look, there were times in my career I didn't meet my private exacting 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 am sure there are countless thousands still working in the newsrooms of this country who share my view.

There was good reporting on the nation's level, but I am sorry, embarrassed and I am angry at how a giant crew of the media has reported and researched this story with such a pile-on mindset. The rush to judgment, the supposition, the innuendo, the outrageous commentary based primarily on a grand jury report that still has to be proved in the court of law. It has already ruined the stature of many of us as well as Penn State College and the entire State School area community.

It's offensive to me that a giant slice of the media and the public has already made up its mind without waiting for all the facts to come out through the court process that Joe Paterno is the ultimate villain here for what he did or failed to don't Jerry Sandusky and that Penn State and any person even tangentially connected with Penn State is accountable for what happened. The feedback is vicious and most of all, so self-righteous. Not only the scurrilous internet sites, where you would expect it, but supposed "legitimate media" web sites also. If you would like more examples, read and see them on the Web yourself.

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

For the record, the 1st I heard about Sandusky's alleged and I continue utilizing that word as I was first given training to do in journalism school kid abuse was in mid-June of 2009 when I was volunteering for the once a year fund-raising Second Mile golfing tournament. I did not know Jerry well, but I had been around him at golfing tournaments and I had interviewed him 2 times.

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

I know you think some local reporters did some good solid reporting on this. But why did not this story come out earlier?

There are 3 journalists who were on it. Sara Ganim, once the crime correspondent for the Centre Daily Times, who broke the first public reports of the investigation 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 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 don't hear much about Pat as he died of brain cancer at the age of 42 in early July but he was deep into the story.

Ganim appears like a throwback to the journalism of my youth, and based 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 is just 24 and has to be slightly overpowered with a story like this. I just hope she doesn't slip into the sloppiness that often infects other young reporters who are overtaken by their ego when they end up on top of a big state story.

On this Sandusky story, I call Ganim, Sinderson and Boland "The Three Musketeers." They didn't share all of their information, but like many reporters somewhere else they frequently cooperated on their research. It's not surprising that Ganim has been the front-runner in informing the public of this story. Newspaper reporters and many TV reporters, particularly in the major markets, can do that. Sinderson and Boland were hampered by the medium they were in, a mass of needs dictated by their specific jobs mixed with the need to get folk to talk in public online, disguising their faces or voices if necessary. That restrictions plenty of things.

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

But these journalists must have known a lot was going on long before Nov.

Outsiders have criticized the local media and regional media for not uncovering more of Sandusky's alleged grave transgressions ; of not informing the public earlier than this past spring of the investigation ; and, most egregious of all, of not reporting the unproven rumors that were swirling around the community.

Yet, look it up. Ganim's first Patriot-News story of the enquiry was on March 31. It hardly made a ripple even in Harrisburg and State School. Check out Ganim's initial story that may still be found on the Web. There were just six comments from Net readers at the time two of them doubtful. Now, people have gone back to read it and there are more comments now. But Ganim has announced publicly she was stunned by all that lack of interest,writes

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