Premature printing Joe Paterno had died: one editor pays the price

Premature printing Joe Paterno had died: one editor pays the price

Harrisburg : PA : USA | Jan 22, 2012 at 10:37 AM PST
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Head Coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions

By Veronica Roberts

Sunday January 22, 2012

By now everyone must know the iconic former coach of Penn State Joe Paterno has lost his short battle with lung cancer. Sadly, his death was announced by his family on Sunday. For obvious reasons this tragedy is big news but what responsibility does the media have in exercising restraint, sacrificing the bonanza scoop for integrity and accurate reporting?

We don't know exactly when "Jo Pa" died, it could have been on Saturday but his family issued a statement saying he was alive. They are entitled to the utmost privacy and it is their prerogative to release his death as they wish.

Twitter, blogs, Facebook and numerous internet citizen journalists prematurely posted articles and tweets that Paterno had died even though the major main stream media was reporting that he was gravely ill but not dead. We all want to be the first to "break" a story and some would do anything to achieve that.

The media love a scoop and one editor paid the price for that "hunger." The managing editor of Penn State online news Onward State, Devon Edwards, prematurely posted that Paterno was dead on Saturday. Like wildfire, other news outlets devoured the story and because a rumor takes less time to circle the globe than it takes me to tie my jogging sneakers--it took off. Sites like the Daily Beast, CBSSports and others, even here at Allvoices ran with the story.

After apologizing for what he called "an error," that editor has now resigned.

So whose fault was it, the editor of an online University news magazine or the rest of us who pounced on the story? Is it the source's fault when inaccurate or premature information gets published or is it the ones doing the publishing responsibility to check, double-check and exercise restraint even when the news is devilishing tempting?

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VeronicaS is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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