In an email to subscribers with “the story behind the story” of the Penn State Scandal, Joe Sexton describes how The New York Times responded Saturday, Nov. 5, as word spread that Jerry Sandusky was being accused of sexual abuse.
It didn’t take long for us to recognize our most formidable competition. It was the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. Reporters there had done ample and fine and audacious work over the last year chipping away at the story — revealing an investigation, identifying victims, and much more. It was heartening to see — a smallish paper in tough times for the industry doing courageous, ambitious, dogged work in taking on some of the most powerful and recognizable institutions and people in the state. Hats off.
But the NYT was there in force by Monday, and by Tuesday midday we had produced our own major scoop: Paterno, after more than six decades at the school, was not going to survive as coach. Twitter went nuts. Paterno’s family called it premature. Everyone credited the NYT. No one matched us. The next day, Paterno was fired.
How did we get it? Let’s call it the payoff from hard work over many years.
The Patriot-News published an editor’s note last week chastising the Times for a subsequent story that revealed information about one of the accusers. In a statement provided to Jim Romenesko, The Times said the story “was careful and sensitive.” Patriot-News editor David Newhouse told Romenesko, “I love the New York Times.”