Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Conversation About Covering Controversy: Recap

Penn State students, community members, and journalists met last night in a public forum to debrief and discuss the story around Penn State in recent weeks. The discussion took place as “A Conversation About Covering Controversy," hosted by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.

The event, a panel/Q&A session, took place in the Schwab Auditorium on the PSU campus.

On the panel were: moderator Malcolm Moran, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the Curley Center; Christine Brennan, sports columnist for USA Today and national sports commentator; Jeremy Schaap, reporter for ESPN; Mark Viera, New York Times reporter and PSU alumnus; Jerry Micco, assistant managing editor for sports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PSU alumnus; and Sara Ganim, PSU alumna who first brought the story to light in March as crime reporter for The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.

The goal of the conversation was to provide context for this story and to provide professional guidance for the many journalism students who attended. While there were plenty of questions about the controversy itself and how Penn State should move forward as a community, the focus of the panel was clearly on how journalists should cover and report on such stories.

The panelists fielded questions about identifying victims’ names in news stories, using anonymous sources, and reporting on stories in close-knit communities for which the reporter is an outsider.

More general questions about how this controversy has or will affect the PSU community were also presented to the panelists. The most ardently critical voice in these discussions was Brennan, who referred to the Penn State scandal as the worst controversy in college sports and perhaps in all of sports -- and wondered whether Penn State and other universities have lost touch with their priorities. She defended a recent column she wrote in which she encouraged Penn State to take itself out of bowl contention.

The event was streamed live on the web and an archived version is available (see below).

-Brett Sherrick

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