Last week I attended a news editors’ workshop at the New York Times. While I walked away with lots of tips, pieces of advice and other valuable information, the thing that stuck with me most was the opening statement made to start the day.
“Information has become a commodity – world-class journalism has not.”
World-class journalists have the ability to draw from the abundance of information and to turn it into news. They are able to decipher what information is actually newsworthy and to present that news in the most effective way possible.
This week, many world-class journalists were recognized for their accomplishments and journalistic contributions. On Monday, Columbia University announced the winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes.
One of the most notable winners was Sara Ganim who won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. At the young age of 24, Ganim is one of the youngest recipients of the prize.
Ganim’s prize-winning journalism comes from her dedication and investigative reporting regarding Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State scandal. After hearing rumors regarding the possible sex abuse scandal in 2009, Ganim began to dig and investigate the allegations.
Over the years she continued to work on the story and to uncover more information, along with fulfilling her day-to-day duties as a reporter. Her compilation of details and interviews led her to publish an article in March 2011 about the truth behind the rumors. Shortly after her story ran in The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, where she was working, Sandusky was accused of raping a boy in the Penn State locker room and legendary Penn State head coach Joe Paterno was fired. Ganim’s story truly had made an impact.
Ganim exemplifies what it means to be a world-class journalist. First, she was persistent. She took in the information around her, dug deeper, researched and reported until she was able to uncover the true story. She was original in her reporting. She didn’t rely solely on what was known, but rather she tracked down the appropriate sources and asked new questions to get down to the bottom of the case. She was passionate. Her passion for journalism and for reporting kept her interested, kept her working and allowed her to propel the coverage of the case for the rest of the country. Ganim proves that age does not define a journalist’s success, but rather the passion, drive and skills to be a good reporter.
In what other ways do you think Ganim acted as a world-class journalist? What qualities do you think make a journalist great? What lessons can we, as young journalists, take away from Ganim?