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One gutsy front page

From the heart of Nittany Lion country, here’s the front page of today’s Harrisburg Patriot-News. It’s a full-page editorial calling for the president of Penn State to resign and the university to decline to renew Joe Paterno’s contract.

You can read the full editorial online here. You can also get a PDF of the page from PennLive.com.

The editorial considers the charges of child sex abuse against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, and the appallingly nonchalant reactions by several university officials to firsthand reports of the abuse. The paper says:

“[Penn State President Graham] Spanier needs to step aside. If he doesn’t, the university board of trustees needs to take that step when it meets this week. As for Joe Paterno, the face of Penn State and the man who has pushed for excellence on the football field and for the entire university, this must be his last season. His contract should not be extended.”

For those unfamiliar with Central PA, calling for Joe Paterno’s ouster there is akin to asking God to extinguish the sun. The newspaper will almost certainly lose advertisers and subscribers as a result of this editorial.

I think this is a gutsy move, but totally called for given the situation. Great job.

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Update: Patriot-News editor Editor David Newhouse tells news design blogger Charles Apple: “We expected a deluge of calls and emails this morning angry that we turned our front page over to our own opinion. Instead, nearly all the feedback has been positive, some extremely so.”

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(Some disclosures: I hold a Penn State journalism degree, and while studying there I covered university administration for the student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and freelanced for The Patriot-News. I later worked for The Carlisle Sentinel, a newspaper that competes with The Patriot-News in Cumberland County.)

Front page image via the Newseum.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under News & Journalism

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