This morning, Twitter reacted for the second time to the news that Joe Paterno had died at age 85.
Last night, after the PSU student news website Onward State ran a tweet announcing Paterno’s death, thousands of of tweets appeared with a mixture of condolensces, confusion and refusal to run with the story until it was confirmed; however, this was not the case for a few publications, like CBS Sports. CBS ran the story of Paterno’s death last night without confirming the facts with a reliable source.
CBS and Onward State quickly retracted the story, but the editor of the PSU publication resigned. (Read more about what went wrong here.)
On Sunday morning, Joe Paterno had actually passed away, sending new waves of condolensces through the internet.
Moral of the story: CHECK YOUR FACTS.
In this age of viral media, any news you post online can travel unthinkably fast. While it’s always the goal to be the first one, you never want to be the wrong one. Make sure that you can confirm the news with a reliable source, and if you want to get it first without checking, you better make it clear that this is not a known fact.
The editor of Onward State had to learn this the hard way. But if you just remember to follow the basic rules of journalism, you can keep clear of the entire mess. As for CBS Sports, they should have known better and that definitely hurt their credibility.
RIP Joe Paterno.