Posts tagged ‘New York Times’

Tap Dancing for His Tuition

The “City Room” section of the New York Times specializes in stories that find the individual humanity amid the often faceless, fast-moving masses of New York City. Today’s story comes with a compelling Penn State angle.

Joshua Johnson is a Penn State undergrad — the story doesn’t say, but we think he might attend the Altoona campus — who, like many students, is working to pay his way through school. It’s his job that’s unusual: Johnson, a Harlem native, tap dances for tips on New York City subways. The story details Johnson’s challenging family background and includes a short video, with highlights of his subway routine. It’s absolutely worth checking out.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

March 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm 6 comments

Beverly McIver, Back in the Spotlight

It’s been a while since I met and interviewed Beverly McIver ’92g, the North Carolina-based artist and subject of the upcoming documentary Raising Renee. My profile of McIver ran in our Nov/Dec issue, timed (we thought) with the airing of Raising Renee on HBO late last year. But we never saw a firm date for the premier, and given the events of the past few months, I forgot to ever follow up.

The New York Times Style section offered an unexpected reminder Thursday with a profile of McIver, set at her Durham, N.C. home. It covers much of the same ground our story did—her path to artistic prominence, and the compelling family drama that inspired the documentary—but it offers something we didn’t: a firm date for Raising Renee. The doc is scheduled to air Wednesday, Feb. 22, on HBO. I’ve watched it a few times and highly recommend checking it out.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

February 9, 2012 at 11:50 am 1 comment

A Timely Class in Journalism Ethics

From our intern, Emily Kaplan:

Over the weekend, a friend of mine tweeted: Boy, what I would do to sit in on a journalism ethics class at Penn State this week.

I am fortunate to be enrolled in that course this semester—COMM 409: News Media Ethics, a section taught by Malcolm Moran, a veteran journalist and head of Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.

My friend was right—Tuesday’s lesson was never more relevant. When I walked in, I had pretty good feeling we wouldn’t be discussing the assigned reading on the syllabus. Not after a weekend where dubious reporting and social media gone wild resulted in an announcement that the most recognizable face of this university had died—when in fact, he was still alive.

“There’s nothing more important to be right about than if an important figure is alive or not,” Moran said. “Nothing.”

So who better to be a guest lecturer than Mark Viera ’09? He’s the New York Times reporter who dispelled reports that Joe Paterno had passed away Saturday night by simply asking a family spokesman whether the rumors were true.

The class had a meta feel. Moran asked Viera what lessons from the course he has applied to his reporting—and what lessons couldn’t be taught in the classroom. Moran also pointed out the seat that Viera occupied just a few semesters ago. The girl sitting there now has some big shoes to fill. Viera, 24, has been one of the Times’ lead journalists in Penn State coverage over the past two months because of his familiarity with the school and dogged reporting.

But Tuesday, he stood in front of about 50 of us. Everyone seemed attentive as he spoke. I don’t know whether it was respect for Moran, respect for Viera or simply respect for the subject matter, but I didn’t see one person texting under their desk or day dreaming blankly at the wall. (more…)

January 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm 4 comments

A High-Profile Introduction for Bill O’Brien

Bill_OBrienWhat a difference 46 years makes.

After Rip Engle retired as Penn State’s football coach, Joe Paterno was introduced at his successor at a news conference on Saturday morning, Feb. 19, 1966. On the front page of the next issue of The Daily Collegian, this was the top headline: “Model U.N. Whips USSR Bloc.”

Underneath, there were stories about whether changing the rules on female students living in apartments would lead to moral ruin (one student testified that at other schools with similar rules, “they have no trouble with pregnancies”), about the Collegian’s new editor and business manager, and about the concert that kicked off Greek Week 1966: Simon and Garfunkel in Recreation Building.

Paterno was mentioned on page 6. At the bottom. In a story headlined “Paterno Retains Staff.”

To be fair, the Collegian published Tuesday through Saturday in those days, so the news was a couple of days old. But it’s still remarkable to contrast the introduction of Paterno with that of his successor, Bill O’Brien, who was introduced Saturday morning at the Nittany Lion Inn in a ballroom full of media members, donors, university officials, alumni, and what seemed like some fans who wandered in. O’Brien’s news conference was televised and streamed live by the Big Ten Network (if you missed it, you can watch it here), and dozens of media tweeted his every word to an eager Penn State fan base and a national audience.

And, of course, the composition of O’Brien’s staff, while important, wasn’t the big story. It was how and why he was chosen to lead Penn State after the Sandusky scandal.

O’Brien’s Friday evening flight from Boston to State College was tracked online by media, and shortly after the plane landed at University Park Airport, photos started to show up on Twitter. The photos, taken in the dark, weren’t great—Jim Seip of the York Daily Record tweeted that he’d seen better definition in photos of Sasquatch.

Photographers got better shots Saturday before the new coach actually met the media; O’Brien’s 5-year-old son, Michael, (more…)

January 9, 2012 at 8:52 am 1 comment

More Recommended Reading: Preliminary Hearing

If you’re trying to get a handle on the last-minute announcement that Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g would waive his preliminary hearing, you’re not alone. I’ve spent part of the afternoon monitoring Twitter and checking out various news organizations’ coverage, and here’s what’s caught my eye:

Adam Smeltz ’05 of provides a good synopsis here, and the New York Times, which obviously has a broader audience, does something similar here on its college sports blog, The Quad. This MSNBC video, featuring investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, is also good, although the studio host mangles the pronunciation of Bellefonte.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked to a couple of defense lawyers who are baffled by the strategy of Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola ’70. ESPN’s Lester Munson, a lawyer and journalist, gets into more of the details here, with everything from how the preliminary hearing can benefit the defense to whether the defense will eventually request a trial by judge, not jury. There’s a video of Bob Ley speaking with legal analyst Roger Cossack at the same link.

Dan Wetzel, a columnist for Yahoo Sports who has weighed in early and often on the scandal, has what might be one of the first opinion pieces published; he says that Sandusky’s late decision “put the accusers through the wringer.”

And while I don’t love everything that Deadspin does, this piece on the morning’s events is a really good read.

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve found other worthwhile stories.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

December 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm 4 comments

Sandusky Talks to the New York Times

Jerry-SanduskyYou can’t help but wonder how Jerry Sandusky sees the world.

Sandusky ’66, ’71g, of course, is the man whose alleged actions have emotionally scarred at least eight boys, ended the careers of Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, and caused anguish for thousands of Penn Staters and others worldwide. You can’t help but wonder, If it’s true, what was he thinking? And what is he thinking about now, as he sees the damage done and contemplates spending possibly the rest of his life in prison?

The New York Times’ Jo Becker managed to persuade Sandusky to sit down with her to answer some of those questions. Becker spent four hours with Sandusky, in two sessions, at the home of his lawyer, Joe Amendola. You can read the resulting story here.

Also of note are the nine-minute video clip, in which you can listen to and watch Sandusky during the interview, and a collection of 13 audio clips (under “Multimedia”) in which he addresses topics ranging from physical activity with kids to his thoughts on Joe Paterno to his life today.

Tina Hay, editor

December 3, 2011 at 9:44 am Leave a comment

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