by Lorenzo Burgio
Sara Ganim spoke to a room full of current and aspiring journalists in the Travelers Lecture Hall Nov. 17th at Central Connecticut State University. The Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter was famous for unveiling the Sandusky Penn State child sex abuse scandal while a reporter at The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Ganim’s speech shined a light on the journalistic career path for upcoming graduates. The now a 28-year-old CNN reporter effortlessly related to the largely undergraduate-based audience. “Your twenties are a really interesting stage in your life, you notice the world is really big then you realize you’re broke and can’t see any of it,” said Ganim.
Recalling life after college, Ganim mentioned there were no paid internships and salaries were, “So low you could qualify for food stamps.” Being able to learn and experience a lot after being “catapulted” shortly after college when the scandal broke, Ganim’s speech resided around two focuses. Never let age deter from producing the finest work, if anything use it to an advantage and choose work environments wisely.
Being a 19-year-old in her first newsroom, she became obsessed with her beat. Sleeping with a police scanner next to her bed and engulfed in her surrounding, Ganim still faced obstacles on her path to success. “It took time, it didn’t happen overnight. I was lied to, ignored, people didn’t trust me,” said Ganim. Until one day someone did, which primarily tipped her off about Jerry Sandusky, longtime beloved football coach.
As the crowd eagerly waited for the next career-starting-tip, Ganim assured the audience how youth can work as an advantage when reporting. Being 24 years old when the scandal was uncovered, she didn’t intimidate others, people could be comfortable around her. “If you recognize your youth, it can work to your advantage. People who make fun of your age don’t like you because they are scared of you,” said Ganim. Again displaying her ability to relate to the audience.
Building upon that, she emphasized caution upon selecting employment and how she has turned jobs down in the past. Also, acknowledging society functions by everybody learning from each other, and to succeed a positive environment is required. As the audience contemplated how any journalistic-employment option could be turned down, Ganim explained she was surrounded by people who kept her grounded and helped to move stories along at The Patriot.
News organizations were unable to duplicate her stories. Ganim knew the most about the scandal. Covering news for the following day, rather than what happened that day as other networks. She recognized this stemmed from a well-functioning work environment. Her constructive atmosphere and love for the job, played major roles in her success.
Ganim overcame obstacles and dishonesty, and showed it is a necessary characteristic in the journalism field. “Almost every Penn State official lied about almost everything,”answered Ganim when asked if they knew anything regarding Sandusky.
“I hope everyone finds the thing they love and want to do — that you can wake up in the morning and actually want to do it,” concluded Ganim.
Through her persistence and ability to transform societal-disadvantage into a journalistic tool, while surrounded by a comfortable and constructive atmosphere, Ganim flourished in the field and left impending journalists feeling capable of the same.