Penn State Alumna Sara Ganim, along with the other members of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, were announced Monday as the winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting after their breaking and ongoing coverage of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case.
Ganim, Class of 2008, has been a Patriot-News crime reporter since January 2011 and is the second-youngest winner of a Pulitzer in the award’s history. She began working on the Sandusky story as a crime reporter at the Centre Daily Times and broke the story at The Patriot-News.
Ganim beat out the California Watch staff and their probe of deficient earthquake construction of public schools. She also beat out A.M. Sheehan and Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling of the Advertiser Democrat and their exposure of the deplorable conditions in federally supported housing, according to a press release issued by Pulitzer officials.
Many who have worked with Ganim have said she is one of the hardest working journalists they have ever met.
“This is a well-deserved honor. Sara is an exceptional reporter. I’m extremely proud of her. I'm confident this is just the beginning of much more to come,” Susan Leath, president and publisher of the CDT, said in a release provided by Chip Minemyer, executive editor of the CDT.
Ford Risley, head of the Penn State Department of Journalism, said Ganim was always dedicated and stood out academically in the College of Communications.
Risley said that not only was Ganim one of the hardest working students, she always had a love of journalism and was interested in chasing stories.
While at the CDT, Ganim was an adjunct professor for the Penn State College of Communications, teaching introductory writing courses to student journalists.
“One of the things that so impressed me about her was that even after she graduated and started at a newspaper, she was still willing to teach,” Risley said.
Andy Colwell, a photographer for the Erie-Times News, said he first met Ganim when he was an intern at the Patriot-News in May 2011 and said she has been nothing but professional since they met.
Colwell, Class of 2011, first worked with Ganim when they both were assigned to cover a massive storm in late May 2011. Colwell said even though he was just an intern, Ganim was respectful and professional with him.
“There’s a joke in journalism where all journalists call the photographer ‘their’ photographer,” Colwell said. “Sara was never like that. She always treated me as an equal.”
Colwell said Ganim’s writing is prolific and helped keep the information steadily coming in.
“It takes a certain type of journalist to realize the impact of a story and maintain such a level of professionalism through it all,” Colwell said.