Our 15 Minutes of Fame

January 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm 18 comments

We knew we’d get some feedback on our January-February issue, which is devoted almost entirely to coverage of the Sandusky scandal. We figured we’d get some emails, some letters, maybe a phone call or two. We hoped the comments would be more positive than not, but you never really know; you just have to wait for the magazine to start hitting mailboxes and see what happens.

Well, the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. The mail is heavy, and it’s running 4 to 1 in favor of our approach. (More on that another time.)

Beyond that, something else happened that I never would have predicted: We’re getting some attention in the news media.

I’ve been interviewed by reporters from the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. They all want to know what it was like to throw out the previously planned Jan-Feb issue and start from scratch to cover the explosion of events. And, given the candid way in which we covered the crisis, they all want to know what kind of interference we got from the Penn State administration.

As I’ve told each and every reporter, the answer to the latter question is: “None.” At no time did any of the higher-ups tell us, “You can’t do that.” (More on that another time as well.)

Some of the stories resulting from those media interviews haven’t appeared yet. Others have just been small mentions: The Wall Street Journal item was all of three sentences—81 words total. But hey, it’s the Wall Street Journal; they certainly have a bunch of readers, and that’s good exposure for the magazine.

The Post-Gazette article ran this past Tuesday and was pretty extensive. I’ve only seen the online version so far, but my brother-in-law, who lives in Pittsburgh, tells me it was on the front page.

In addition, our Jan-Feb issue and its rather unorthodox cover were also mentioned briefly yesterday afternoon on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, in which I’m told the on-air folks made reference to its “frank” coverage of the scandal.

There also was a very nice blog post about us at a site called Content Marketing Institute, run by Joe Pulizzi ’97g. Titled “Penn Stater Magazine Handles Scandal the Right Way,” the post says the Jan-Feb issue “has renewed my faith in Penn State as an institution.”

All of this attention will go away soon, I’m sure, and we’ll be back to grinding away at the next issue. But for now I’m happy for the opportunities to talk about what we’re trying to do here.

Tina Hay, editor

Entry filed under: The Penn Stater Magazine. Tags: , , , .

Alumni Ask Questions; President Erickson Answers Reflecting on Two Months—and Two Scandals

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. run4thebeach  |  January 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Got mine in the mail earlier this week. I am proud to share it with others. It goes to show that we do not shy away from the negative, we need to address these things so that we can learn from them and begin the healing process. Thank you.

  • 2. Cathy  |  January 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I have to admit I do not love the cover. Contrary to “popular” opinion, Penn State is not dead and that is what I take away from the cover – and the crazy paper stock to hold onto all that black ink. The inside on the other hand is quite remarkable. Either way, I thank you and your staff for the countless hours they put into recreating the magazine.

  • 3. Diana  |  January 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Disliked the cover. It was a little too morbid for me. However, the reporting of the sad event was very well done. Congrats!

  • 4. V. Jackson  |  January 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Tina, after the scandal broke I first felt so terribly sad for the victims and prayed for their healing. Then my thoughts turned to you and your staff. Whatever coverage you had planned for this issue was now out the window and a job, probably the toughest you’ve ever had to face, awaited. The Penn Stater staff has done us proud and has showed the world that while we love our football, we do not hold it above all else. We are a university family first, fans second. Thank you.

  • 5. Aileen M Glass  |  January 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I think the coverage is great as are the articles but I really hate the cover. I agree with Kathy. It gives the impression that Penn State is dead. We are not dead. The scandal will not define Penn State, its students or alumni. Yes, we care deeply for the victims and yes it has raised our awareness of them. But… we as Penn Staters are not responsible in any way for what has happened. There are a few people and they should be held accountable. The rest of us are innocent bystanders.

  • 6. Anthony Demangone  |  January 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I thought you all did a fine job with the issue, including the article. You pushed the envelope a bit, and more folks should do that. Far too few pioneers around, these days.

  • 7. Ruth  |  January 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I thought the cover was SPOT ON and fit the dark mood surrounding PSU these days. I didn’t take it to mean death by any stretch of the imagination. I can’t imagine what other cover would have been appropriate.
    I’d say the color drained out of me when thinking about the whole mess.

  • 8. Susan McNulty-Atwater  |  January 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Tina, I got my copy that you sent to me in the mail today. Oddly, my original never arrived. Thanks for sending it to me….you and your staff did a fine job. The entire Penn Stater staff did a great job in good honest journalism and admirable reporting of the truth on a sad subject. I appreciate the dedication and work that the staff did under such difficult circumstances.

  • 9. Nancy Sassano  |  January 13, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Still waiting for mine out here in Utah. I, too, almost immediately thought of The Penn Stater when everything broke loose. I think still had my previous issue on the kitchen counter when I heard the first news that Saturday. Looking forward to reading it all.

  • 10. Anonymous  |  January 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I am so proud of our alumni magazine AND of our University. The Jan issue was just right…the cover and the coverage. And mention of the Penn Stater and of Tina in the national media is a little silver lining to our dark cloud. You acted decisively and appropriately. It is true that, as another commenter said: “We are a university family first, fans second. Thank you.”

  • 11. Stephanie Asalone  |  January 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

    The ironic thing, to me, is that the November-December issue pertained to finding out what people do on campus on a football Saturday instead of attend the game. There will probably be a lot more of them this coming season, and whether or not that is a good thing is debatable. I guess, to me, the fact that the cover story immediately preceding the one pertaining to the Sandusky scandal had to do with football and those who may have been doing a better job of keeping it in its proper place at PSU was an unintended prelude to what many, many people are going to need to do at some point — reevaluate what role football and athletics in general needs to play for the University.

    I read the January-February issue cover to cover…probably the first time I’ve done that in the four or five years I’ve been a member of the Alumni Association and received the magazine. I especially appreciated Adam Taliaferro’s essay. I read about the story he told in “They Know Joe”, a book I received for Christmas in 2010 and also read cover-to-cover while waiting for my flights back to SLC after the holidays that year. I was a student at UPark when he got hurt, and I had no idea that Joe had orchestrated those visits. Goes to show us that many of the best things he did will only ever be known to those to whom he did them, and that is how it should be.

  • 12. Anonymous  |  January 13, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I read this issue of the Penn Stater from cover to cover the evening that it arrived, cried several times while reading it, and then couldn’t fall asleep until about 5 am the next morning; mourning …

    I found that the many pain and shame drenched voices heard in its stories provided an entirely appropriate, absolutely essential and indeed outstanding perspective on the tremendous disgrace that has befallen our beloved Penn State. Yet these voices were also and still strong in speaking to how we as Penn Staters will atone for this tradegy and move towards for a better future.

    And after reading this issue of the Penn Stater, these words from an ancient poem — lines from which Robert F. Kennedy recited on the occasion of another egregious crime against an innocent victim, the assassination of Martin Luther King — also came to mind:

    “And even in our sleep, pain which we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, despite our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

  • 13. Adriana (Adie) Storm) Mahony, '62  |  January 14, 2012 at 1:11 am


    The Penn Stater Jan/Feb:

    It was splendid, a work of truth, art (loved the cover) and stirring journalism; not a false note in it. I read every single word in one sitting and later on , reflecting on it, I realized it was healing……

    Adie Storm Mahony’62

  • 14. Anonymous  |  January 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Tina: Congratulations to you and your staff on a gutsy cover and insightful issue, and to the University for respecting your professional judgement. I felt your approach was contemporary and brave. While The Penn Stater is typically a feel-good publication, I look forward to future articles and essays that help us think outside the box. Perhaps this is a new beginning for The Penn Stater as well.
    Parent of ’95 graduate

  • 15. EarlGrayHot  |  January 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I’d say the black cover is appropriate, considering that Penn State officials at the highest level apparently DID know what was being alleged and did nothing to investigate, choosing only to tell Sandusky he couldn’t bring children onto campus. Really? That is a slap on the wrist for a heinous crime against children and those officials were justifiably terminated.

    As for Joe Paterno, don’t tell me he didn’t have the power to do anything more; that’s just not the case. He was a very powerful coach who, when notified of the issue, should have done more, followed through and he now admits he wishes he had. This is just another case of athletics overlooking bad behavior because of the moneymaker it is.

  • 16. dwhirsch  |  January 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    When I get The Penn Stater, it often ends up in my “I’ll-read-it-later” pile. Not this one. I stared deeply at the shocking cover, called my husband to let him know what had arrived and then devoured it cover-to-cover. I, too, cried and smiled and thought. It seems silly now, but I never thought that the magazine staff would care to care about this. I’m pleased that you did.

    I was surprised to find fewer “negative” point of views than were printed, given that most of the media and far too many alumni have vilified the university and the actions of its personnel. I do not know the facts of this situation, and until a judge and jury make a ruling of the facts presented in a court, I appreciate the coverage by your magazine. You have approached this with taste, grace and professionalism. c/o ’92

  • 17. A Tailgating Tradition « The Penn Stater Magazine  |  February 10, 2012 at 11:13 am

    […] of emails we’ve been wading through here at The Penn Stater—and that was before our Jan./Feb. issue hit mailboxes earlier this month and before Joe Paterno passed away nearly three weeks ago. […]

  • 18. A Tailgating Tradition « The Penn Stater Magazine  |  February 10, 2012 at 11:14 am

    […] of emails we’ve been wading through here at The Penn Stater—and that was before our Jan./Feb. issue hit mailboxes and before Joe Paterno passed away nearly three weeks ago. Needless to say, readers […]

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