Anderson, Ganim and The Patriot-News earn Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence

  • Oct 23, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. (October 23, 2012) — The 2012 Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (PNA) Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence has been awarded to William “Bill” Anderson, publisher of Mainline Newspapers, as well as Sara Ganim and The Patriot-News staff.

Established in 1998, this award recognizes individuals who have performed an outstanding service or accomplishment to their newspapers; to the newspaper industry in general; to their local communities; or to the PNA, that reflected positively on the newspaper industry in Pennsylvania.

Bill Anderson’s colleagues describe him as the quintessential newspaperman. George “Scoop” Sample III, owner and president of Sample News Group, wrote that Anderson’s tenacity and creativity led to great success, both in managing others’ newspapers and building his own. “Bill did it the old-fashioned way: Writing news and selling ads. Creating a team, and pushing them hard to be the best they could be.”

Kelly Luvison, publisher of the Morning Times, says Anderson embodies the traits that make community newspapers flourish – creativity, charisma, shoe-leather salesmanship and a tireless commitment to local content that matters. “More importantly,” writes Luvison, “he has gone above and beyond over four decades of writing, selling and publishing to share his successes with any colleague who wanted help or needed to grow.” John Satterwhite, publisher of The Bradford Era, wrote that Anderson is the epitome of the “total newspaper man,” with a unique ability to write, sell advertising, manage and publish newspapers. Perhaps more important to Bill is his uncanny ability to inspire his colleagues and the next generation of newspaper professionals.

Bill began his career as sports editor of The Punxsutawney Spirit. He worked successfully for multiple corporate owners, and in 2000, built a group of Mountaintop weeklies into a respected and profitable group. Partnering with Scoop Sample, his group grew with a daily in Latrobe and two weeklies in Shippensburg. He has also been a leader in his community and played an instrumental role in making Groundhog Day the national event that it has become.

For two years, Patriot-News police reporter Sara Ganim tracked down the rumor that former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was being investigated for child abuse. It started with one alleged victim; Sara would eventually develop some 50 sources. The first story was published on March 31, 2011 with a large front-page headline. There was little public reaction. When Sara broke the news of Sandusky’s indictment on November 4, 2011, the media flocked to Happy Valley. While the initial eye of the media was on Penn State and Sandusky, Sara was determined to keep the focus on the victims.

Through the course of the investigation, and The Patriot-News were recognized as the leading sources on the Sandusky-Penn State story. By December 31, 2011, 587 news posts and videos had been published online, and 109 stories were written for print. The coverage eventually led to a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for Ganim and the newspaper staff.

The work of Ganim and her colleagues at The Patriot-News has spurred positive changes within the community and beyond. A December 21 Reuters story found that reports to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline had increased by 54 percent. Calls to the Childhelp hotline by adults who said they had been victimized as children were up by a third. To that end, efforts are under way to strengthen the state’s reporting requirements for suspected child sex abuse, and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has called for federal hearings on child abuse reporting laws.

The PNA Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence will be presented on Nov. 8, 2012 during the PNA Annual Convention held at the Hilton Scranton in Scranton, Pa.

The PNA, founded in 1925, is the nonprofit trade association for print and online media in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to advance the interests of Pennsylvania news organizations, promote the importance of a free and independent press and provide a forum for critical and innovative thinking about the future of journalism and the newspaper industry. It has more than 300 newspaper and media members, including daily, weekly, and college newspapers and online publications.

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