The Next Page: How we got 'Game Over: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State and the Culture of Silence'

By Bill Moushey and Bob Dvorchak
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 15, 2012

Getting a book published is an accomplishment. There's no denying that. But the process takes a toll, especially on two old-school scribes, looking at middle age in the rearview mirror.

"Game Over: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State and the Culture of Silence," published by William Morrow/HarperCollins, and due out on Tuesday, was the most demanding writing assignment we've ever tackled.

The task was daunting from the start -- report and write a 75,000-word manuscript in less than 10 weeks. If the tight deadline wasn't enough, the sordid subject matter caused hundreds of people to convulse and flee when we broached our questions to them. As for the lonely accusers who said Jerry Sandusky foisted unspeakable abuse upon them, they were guarded by an impermeable shield constructed by lawyers wanting to preserve their stories for civil suits, their own books or both.

The guts of the book comes from hardcore, daylight-to-dark ground reporting, culled from more than 100 people who eventually agreed to talk with us. Because of the tangled web of legal issues, job security and fear of reprisals, many of them would only talk on background -- or, in the verbiage of old-school journalism, "off the record." We didn't like that notion, but relented because in simple terms, all we wanted to do is get to the truth.

Our work would consume the entire holiday season and more. Christmas was just another day of writing. New Year's revelers were still stumbling around Downtown Pittsburgh when Bill arrived at his office before dawn. He felt guilty taking a few hours to spend with his kids on their birthdays. Bob agreed with his family and grandkids to mark all holidays at a later date.

Time was something we didn't have. Those grueling days and late nights consumed the spirit. Like a 24-hour restaurant, Bill worked from pre-dawn hours until night, Bob night until morning. There were no arguments, probably because through the modern wonders of the Internet, we only met face-to-face every couple of weeks.

It was always about the story, not about us. But in Bob's case, at least, writing the book was as emotionally demanding as the inner struggle of being on a battlefield, as when he was an embedded reporter for the Associated Press during the 1990 Persian Gulf War. Landmines were lurking everywhere.

For Bill, who's covered bad guys his entire life, it was a rare and inconvenient convergence of the law and politics. Sources promised to talk, then clammed up. If the holiday season weren't enough of an impediment, the banal reality was that few, if any, of the sources saw any beneficial reasons for talking about Mr. Sandusky's alleged acts, Penn State's cover-up of them or any of literally hundreds of other elements of how the august Penn State University had sunk to such a low.

This story was not about arm's-length detachment. It required plumbing the depths and marinating in horrific detail -- and the raw emotions of shock, disbelief, anger and a sense of shame.

We had to talk to people who didn't want to talk. The noises of hang-ups and slammed doors still ring in our ears. Literally hundreds of calls and letters to potential sources were ignored. Government sources were unusually tight-lipped due to the unprecedented amount of security around the case compounded by the non-stop presence of media lurking throughout Happy Valley, trying to find those elusive scoops.

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