Most headlines about the Pulitzers tomorrow will discuss the rise of online media, given the awards won by HuffPo and Politico. That’s understandable of course, and the Nieman Lab already has a great post up describing the role the web had not only in those two winners, but in the breaking news category and the feature photography prize.
That said, what inspired me more about the list of winners was the prize well-earned by 24-year-old reporter Sara Ganim. Ganim reported on the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, and took from the prize for local reporting for her work.
Poynter was quick to ask Ganim her strategy on reporting, and the young reporter boiled it down to the strategy “move it forward,” or move the article forward by answering the questions that have not been answered by large media outlets.
An excerpt from the article:
“Several news organizations have recognized Ganim’s watchdog reporting (and so did Glamour magazine). The Baltimore Sun said it’s ‘every bit comparable to the guts and drive of The Washington Post in breaking the Watergate scandal.” Jason Fry and Kelly McBride, who serve as ESPN’s ombuds through the Poynter Review Project, wrote: “With the biggest staff of sports journalists in the world, ESPN should have been leading the charge to ask tough questions and shed light on this scandal. Instead, it was the tiny Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., out in front of the journalism pack.”
No small compliments.
Ganim is such a valuable role model for young journalists, many of whom associate journalistic success with the reputation or size of the publication, and are consequently disheartened with the profession as a whole since jobs are scarce at those notable publications. What Ganim proves is that it is the reporter, not the publication, that makes all the difference in the world.
And of course, Ganim is on top of the online trends as well. Another excerpt:
“Ganim regularly incorporates multimedia and social media into her reporting, she says, “because newspaper reporting isn’t just about ink and paper anymore.” The night Paterno was fired, Ganim captured scenes and interviews on her cell phone and emailed them directly to the newsroom. “The copy desk watched them and translated quotes,” she told WOUB. “If I had gone with a notebook and pen, we would have never made deadline by the time I got them.”
Young, hard-working, current and motivated. All recent j-school grads should tape her photo to the top of the desktop screen. Why not aim big, even when the audience and paper seem a little small.