Journalism, Ohio University

Sandusky, Fine captivate the nation

Jerry Sandusky · via Google Images

Part of me wishes I that attend Penn State or Syracuse.

Not that I don’t love Ohio, because I honestly do. It’s just the fact of the matter that both Happy Valley and Syracuse are so darn interesting.

I went crazy when there were a couple of ESPN semis parked out back of Ohio’s Peden Stadium a couple of weeks back. Imagine what it’d be like having a couple of the network’s personalities, among others, hunkered down on campus, getting the students’ vibe and presenting the proceedings in real time?

To throw a disclaimer out there, it’s not like I am obsessed with the television news giant. I have just had the opportunity to do some cool stories on it. Quite frankly, I would rather read about what’s happening.

To know what’s going on at your school warrants national headlines day in and day out must be pretty cool. Granted, PSU and SU are not exactly getting positive press for this, but it is compelling nonetheless.

For me, it is simply interesting.

I will not dive into the specifics of my opinions of Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, Bernie Fine or Jim Boeheim. This is simply because I am getting sick and tired of reading everyone else’s. No offense, nationally syndicated sports columnists that are reading my blog.

And for the record, I am not putting Paterno and Boeheim nor Sandusky and Fine in the same sentence to compare them, but as more of a means presenting their names lineally.

Both the Sandusky and Fine scandals — yes, I do believe they can adequately be deemed scandalous — are interesting to me because they have captured the public eye.

Well, wait a second. NASCAR, Miley Cyrus and the Twilight saga have garnished national attention as well. I surely cannot say that I am drawn to any one of them.

However, these scandals have captivated the public domain.

I don’t think they’re cool and I surely don’t admire most of the characters that are in the limelight, but they’ve got me hooked.

Originally, I was stunned by what happened at Penn State. A once storied program was reduced to a fraction of its previous clout in a matter of days. There’s no doubt that the Nittany Lions will regain their image, but it is going to take years of careful reconstruction. America’s attention span will not be short in this case, for there is little doubt that Sandusky’s hearings and potential sentencing will proceed for months if not years to come.

On the flip side, I was initially indifferent to the proceedings happening only 4.5 hours northeast of Happy Valley.

For whatever reason, I was generally detached from what was going on in Syracuse. I never took the time to check out the timeline of events and took in only what I saw on Sportscenter.

It might have been media saturation from the PSU coverage, me tuning out unappealing accused sexual assault related information or just plain laziness.

Bernie Fine · via Google Images

But all of that changed when I listened to the tape of a phone call between Bobby Davis, the first to step forward with accusations against Bernie Fine, Boeheim’s longtime right-hand man, and Fine’s wife, Laurie.

The conversation, which was recorded unbeknownst to Laurie Fine, clearly described that she had a fair understanding of inappropriate conduct between her husband and younger men, particularly Davis.

It is my understanding that not soon after the tape was released, information became pubic that Laurie Fine had sexual relations with Davis as well. The less-than-credible sports blog community has suggested that type of behavior is not necessarily out of the realm of Laurie Fine’s comfort zone.

Just Google her.

Needless to say, I find this interesting too.

Being a part of it would be even more intriguing.

That sounds disgusting and twisted. Human rights atrocities — especially those involving children — are absolutely not my cup of tea. However, as a journalist, I thrive on stories such as these. It is a surefire opportunity to make a real, tangible difference.

*I can’t really go on without saying that I do not really thrive on these types of stories. This is simply because I have not covered one yet. I can imagine that I would prosper in a situation such as either of these.

The reason that I would not mind being a Nittany Lion or Orangeman right now is because their journalists are getting fantastic experience. Granted, my work with The Post has been awesome, but a situation like this would bring it to a whole new level. The newsrooms at PSU’s Daily Collegian and The Daily Orange at Syracuse have to be absolutely buzzing twenty-four/seven.

The student-journalists — I hate that term, being that I consider myself a plain ‘ol journalist. In this situation, though, it must be used to differentiate between those such as myself and the professional outlets covering the story — are excelling. There is no other way to put it. In many cases they are the ones breaking the stories. This is not because they have covered things like these before or are network “experts” flown to the scene to break down barriers and find the story.

Through my eyes, they are getting good scoops because they are the ones that have put in the work and truly know their beats.

This being said, I cannot wrap this up without mentioning Syracuse’s Post-Standard or the Patriot-News, which has rocked the Sandusky story.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times and Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch have offered great news and additional commentary, also. Their coverage has put them in my reading rotation, which is an obvious feather in each of their caps.

I believe that news is separate from commentary, though, in terms of what should be given priority in terms of readership. I have picked apart many blogs, columns and op-ed pieces from across the country. They help form an opinion, but an opinion should not be based off of that sort of material, I believe. They, no matter the quality, cannot replace a good news story. That will never change.

It is a matter of preference, but I have gotten all of my real information via print sources. There has been good television reporting, but quite frankly, there has been too much opinion interjected into the mix, to the point where I am having a hard time differentiating between facts and judgments. The exception to the rule, for me at least, is ESPN’s Outside the Lines, which does a generally good job cranking out the facts.

In the big scheme of things, my point is the same as it is on a more personal level: it is interesting. Not that I wish for an ill fate to fall upon Ohio University athletics, but I’d love to test my skills in a situation like one of these. Rubbing elbows with the “experts” would undoubtedly be a positive experience and is one that every one of the student journalists at PSU and SU will never forget. On top of that, it will likely pay unforeseen dividends in many of their careers.

In all seriousness, I am sure experienced journalists have a love-hate relationship with these types of stories. It’s a messy job, but somebody has to do it.




  1. Pingback: Finding the good in plenty of bad « J. Ryan Online - December 10, 2011

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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