Sara Ganim

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Sara Ganim
Sara Ganim in 2012
Ganim in 2012
Sara Elizabeth Ganim

(1987-09-09) September 9, 1987 (age 34)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Alma materPennsylvania State University (2008)
Years active2003–present
EmployerCNN (2012–present)
The Patriot-News (2011–2012)
Centre Daily Times (2007–2010)
Spouse(s)Danny Cevallos[1]
AwardsGeorge Polk Award in Journalism (2011)
Sidney Award (2012)
Pulitzer Prize (2012)

Sara Elizabeth Ganim (born September 9, 1987)[2][3] is an American journalist, now a correspondent for CNN.[4] Previously she was a reporter for The Patriot-News, a daily newspaper in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There she broke the story that featured the Sandusky scandal and the Second Mile charity. For the Sandusky/Penn State coverage, "Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff" won a number of national awards including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting,[2] making Ganim the third-youngest winner of a Pulitzer.[5] The award cited "courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Sandusky sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky."[6]

Early years[edit]

Born in Detroit,[7] Ganim grew up in Coral Springs, Florida.[8] In 2005, Ganim graduated from Archbishop McCarthy High School; she was a freelance reporter for the Sun Sentinel when in high school.[9][10] She is a 2008 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, where she majored in Journalism.[11] Ganim is of Lebanese and German descent.[12]


Ganim began her career in high school as a contributor to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and later wrote for the Daily Collegian at Penn State before interning for The Associated Press,[13] Ganim from 2007 worked for the Centre Daily Times, a daily newspaper based in State College, Pennsylvania near the University Park campus of Penn State. At the Daily Times she generated her initial lead for the story of child abuse accusations against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and also won several state journalism awards.[14][15] She joined The Patriot-News staff in January 2011. On March 31, 2011, The Patriot-News published an article written by the newspaper's lawyers[16] based on Ganim's reporting that a grand jury was investigating child sex abuse accusations against Sandusky.[17] By November 2011, the grand jury indicted Sandusky, and the story became a major scandal for Penn State.

In November 2012, she left The Patriot-News to become a full-time correspondent for CNN.[4]

On January 8, 2014, Ganim wrote a story for CNN claiming that some student-athletes at NCAA Division I member colleges and universities read at a third-grade level or below.[18] The article focused attention on several different schools, and included University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), attributing the UNC information to the findings of learning specialist, Mary Willingham, who worked at the university. UNC later issued a statement that this research was "severely flawed."[19][20] The NCAA also disputed Ganim's portrayal of the academic qualifications of college athletes in the article, stating "the hard facts and cold truth simply do not bear out the scenario portrayed in [her] reporting."[21] In response, Willingham said that her "data is 100% correct."[22] On April 11, 2014, UNC released independent expert studies which reviewed the data and disputing Willingham's claims, concluding that "[a] recent CNN articled stated, "60% [of UNC athletes] read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level." Rather than 60% of UNC student-athletes possessing a 4th- to 8th-grade reading level, only 6% of student-athletes read at such level."[23] In May 2014, New York Times columnist cited the CNN report in telling the story of Willingham as a whistleblower.[24] The coverage led UNC to ask for a seventh review of the scandal at UNC, led by former federal prosecutor Ken Wainstein, which found that UNC had downplayed an academic scandal there.[25] However, the NCAA ultimately could not establish that UNC had committed any academic violations and UNC received no penalties.[26]

Awards and recognition[edit]

For the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case work, Ganim gained early attention as the scandal broadened. MarketWatch journalism columnist Jon Friedman wrote of her as "the star reporter" on the scandal in November, 2011. Friedman added that Kim Jones, reporting at Penn State for WFAN, "also mentioned Ganim's stellar work" and that Jason McIntyre of the sports blog The Big Lead among others had been singling out Ganim—and her P-N colleague Ben Jones, in McIntyre's case—on Twitter.[27]

Considerable other attention and professional awards also were given. In February, 2012, Ganim became the youngest person ever, at age 24, to receive the Sidney Award for socially conscious journalism.[3][28] In February 2012, Long Island University announced that she had won a prestigious George Polk Award in Journalism in 2011 for her coverage of the story.[29][30][31] Newsweek magazine named her one of "150 Women Who Shake the World" in March, 2012,[32] and it was announced that Ganim and The Patriot-News would receive the Scripps Howard Award for Community Journalism, again for the Sandusky/Penn State coverage.[33]

In April 2012, then-24-year-old Ganim became the third-youngest person (Jackie Crosby won at 22, Stephanie Welsh at 23) to win a Pulitzer Prize.[5]

For her UNC coverage, Ganim won a 2015 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.[34]

While a print journalist, she received recognition for a body of work that impacted the local communities she covered and for explanation journalism, including a Pennsylvania Bar Association Award, and several Pennsylvania state awards for multimedia reporting and storytelling.

In 2012, she was recognized by the Associated Press Managing Editors association for her work with student journalists.[35] Ganim has taught college-level journalism and spends several days each year speaking to college and high school journalists about the profession of journalism and the transition from print to broadcast. In May 2015, she delivered the commencement address to graduates of the American University in Dubai.[36]

In 2015, she was given the Philip Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service by the American Task Force for Lebanon.[37]

In popular culture[edit]

In the HBO movie Paterno, Ganim, who was a consultant on the film,[38] was played by Riley Keough.


  1. ^ "Sara Ganim, Daniel Cevallos". The New York Times. May 27, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Two Pulitzers for Times; Huffington Post and Politico Win". The New York Times. April 16, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Sara Ganim Wins December Sidney". Sidney Hillman Foundation. December 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Ivey DeJesus (November 13, 2012). "Sara Ganim, who won Pulitzer Prize for Sandusky coverage, accepts job with CNN". The Patriot-News. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Tenore, Mallary Jean (April 16, 2012). "Sara Ganim, 24, wins Pulitzer for coverage of Penn State sex abuse scandal". Poynter. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  6. ^ "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Local Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved September 26, 2017. With short biography and reprints of ten works (Patriot-News articles March 31 to December 20, 2011).
  7. ^ "Sara Ganim." Current Biography, August 2013, vol. 74, issue 8, p. 34.
  8. ^ "Penn State's Sandusky Saga Has S. Fla. Connection". WFOR/CBS Miami. November 12, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
  9. ^ "How a Broward reporter beat journalism's giants". Miami Herald. November 11, 2011. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  10. ^ "2005 McCarthy grad Sara Ganim wins Pulitzer". Archbishop McCarthy High School. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  11. ^ Adam Lidgett (April 17, 2012). "Penn State alumna Sara Ganim wins Pulitzer Prize". Daily Collegian. Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Spotlight: Sara Ganim". ATFL. May 1, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  13. ^ Jamie Frevele (April 17, 2012). "Sara Ganim, 24, Becomes One of the Youngest Winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting". The Mary Sue. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "2011 Winners of PAPME writing, photo contests announced". Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  15. ^ "2011 CDT staffers take home state newspaper association awards". Centre Daily Times. July 22, 2011. Archived from the original on August 20, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  16. ^ Zach Berger (October 10, 2012). "Sara Ganim Stresses 5 Lessons At Foster Conference". Onward State. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  17. ^ Sara Ganim (March 31, 2011). "Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football staffer, subject of grand jury investigation". The Patriot-News. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  18. ^ Sara Ganim (January 8, 2014). "Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders". CNN. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  19. ^ "UNC-Chapel Hill leaders share facts on Willingham dataset, findings". The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. January 17, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  20. ^ Jane Stancill; Dan Kane. "UNC leaders say Mary Willingham's claims on athletes' academics 'a travesty'". The News & Observer. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  21. ^ "NCAA responds to CNN report on student-athlete academic success". NCAA. January 10, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  22. ^ Sara Ganim (January 17, 2014). "UNC whistle-blower battles for OK to study student-athlete literacy". CNN. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  23. ^ "News Release: Outside experts find data set doesn't support claims about reading levels of student-athletes". April 11, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  24. ^ Joe Nocera (May 5, 2014). "She Had to Tell What She Knew". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  25. ^ "Transcript of Kenneth Wainstein's Remarks at the Board of Governors meeting". June 20, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  26. ^ (13 October 2017). "Infractions panel could not conclude academic violations in North Carolina case".
  27. ^ Jon Friedman (November 14, 2011). "Ganim: Star reporter on Penn State scandal". MarketWatch. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  28. ^ Liz Brody (February 6, 2012). "Meet the Woman Who Exposed Jerry Sandusky". Glamour. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  29. ^ "LIU Announces 2011 George Polk Awards in Journalism". Long Island University. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  30. ^ "Patriot-News reporter Sara Ganim wins George Polk Awards". The Patriot-News. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  31. ^ Julie Moos (February 21, 2012). "Polk Awards honor Sara Ganim, Anthony Shadid, California Watch, Advertiser Democrat". Poynter. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  32. ^ "150 Women Who Shake the World". The Daily Beast. March 5, 2012. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  33. ^ "Sara Ganim and The Patriot-News receive Scripps Howard Award for Community Journalism". The Patriot-News. March 16, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  34. ^ Society of Professional Journalism Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  35. ^ Laura Sellers-Earl (September 21, 2012). "Seigenthaler, Ganim, Davis Given APME President's Awards". Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  36. ^ "Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid attends AUD graduation". The National. May 10, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  37. ^ "American Task Force for Lebanon - Activities". 16 December 2010. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  38. ^ "Reporter Sara Ganim discusses her key role in HBO's 'Paterno' movie".

External links[edit]