In the time between the end of jury selection and the start of Jerry Sandusky’s trial, many reporters and media members took a break from their posts in Bellefonte.
Despite the lack of people, outside the Bellefonte courthouse remained a skeletal news crew and several satellite trucks and vans, much like the one that was flipped during the State College riots in November.
The trial began Monday, and Bellefonte residents can expect a continuing media frenzy throughout the rest of the trial. Despite the influx of people, some Bellefonte residents said they were pleased with the reporters who have come to report on the trial. Sue Brockway, owner of the Governor’s Pub, 211 W. High St., a restaurant and bar that is two blocks from the courthouse, said that the trial has been good for business and the pub has been filled every night with reporters and people who are following the trial.
“They have been pleasant, cordial and positive,” she said. “When it was November, the place was packed and they were coming in every day.”
Brockway expects it to be just as busy, if not more so, as the trial continues. She also said that Bellefonte’s historic value hasn’t been tainted by the trial, but people from outside the area simply see it as “the town with the courthouse.”
Much of the organization of the trial can be accredited to Judge John Cleland and some residents said they feel that he is doing a great job handling the case.
Rodney Beard, owner of the Beard Law Co., 101 N. Allegheny Ave., and whose office overlooks the courthouse said the court has done a great job letting the media know what is expected of them and how they should act.
“They have done a great job not letting the proverbial mess occur,” he said.
Beard said, up to this point, reporters have maintained a positive relationship with residents.
“[The reporters] thought it was great that they put port-o-potties near the courthouse,” he said. “I think it’s been a positive experience and most the media folks have been pretty pleasant.”
Some retailers said they fear that the media buzz may scare customers from downtown Bellefonte.
Dana Bradley, a Bellefonte resident who works at the Victorian House: Antique & Artisan Gallery, 107 S. Allegheny St., said Bellefonte has a reputation for limited parking, which is made worse by media trucks and vans.
“For the hearing they blocked off the entire street and nothing happened,” she said. “People don’t want to shop because of it.”
Duff Chamber, the general manager of Ft. Bellefonte Campground, said the media craze is “repulsive.”
“It doesn’t have to be a media event,” he said. “[The trial] didn’t have to go to CNN or Fox News, where they put a spin and opinion into the news.”
Richard Wyckoff, President of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, said media outlets have been working with the Bellefonte police in order to maintain order as well as find the best place to park their satellite trucks.
He said the size of the media horde will fluctuate during the trial, but residents can expect some-200 reporters on the scene on an average day.
“Our people are there to cover the news and we will be there as long as it takes to cover the trial,” he said.