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Old 01-23-2012, 02:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
is the baby faced assassin

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CBSSports.com reported Joe Paterno had died last night on Twitter and on its own website. Here was the Tweet with a link to the article:*“@CBSSports: Joe Paterno has died at the age of 85 - Report: Paterno family weighs stopping ventilator - CBSSports.com

Immediately the report, which didn't initially cite any sources at all,*swept across the Twitter universe.

There was just one problem.

Joe Paterno wasn't dead.

In an amazing turn of events, Paterno's own sons turned to Twitter to refute the CBS report:

"I appreciate the support & prayers," Jay Paterno*Tweeted,* "Joe is continuing to fight." Scott Paterno, another son, also Tweeted: "CBS report is wrong - Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time."

Think about this for a moment, Joe Paterno's sons had to take to Twitter to refute news that their father was dead in the final moments of his life.

Indeed, Paterno died this morning.

How did we get here? To a place where sons are forced to Tweet that their father is still alive from beside the hospital bed?

This isn't a column about Joe Paterno's death, others will write eloquently about the significance of his life, career, and ultimate failings in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but what I'm going to give you is a peek behind the curtain, an explanation for how one of the largest media companies in the world could have messed up so badly when it came to a simple question -- was Joe Paterno alive or dead?

Late last night CBS issued an apology from managing editor Mark Swanson:

"Earlier Saturday night, CBSSports.com published an unsubstantiated report that former Penn State coach Joe Paterno had died. That mistake was the result of a failure to verify the original report. CBSSports.com holds itself to high journalistic standards, and in this circumstance tonight, we fell well short of those expectations.

CBSSports.com extends its profound and sincere apology to the Paterno family and the Penn State community during their difficult time."

By the time of*CBS's apology Twitter justice had been severe and swift. The hashtag #cbssportsreport trended internationally. Ordinarily that would be excellent, except, you know, the entire hashtag satarized and ridiculed CBS for*gross negligence in reporting. It's pretty funny.*Go check out the venom for yourself.*

If ESPN had made a similar error, most national media would have ripped the four-letter network to shreds. If Joe Schad had Tweeted out what CBS did his career would be over. Instead, most national*media was silent in the wake of CBS's tremendous error. The entire CBS Sports staff went underground for hours, presumably informed to say nothing until the bosses could respond. But what was interesting was the degree to which the general public savaged the company anyway. Last fall*ESPN's Bruce Feldman imbroglio led many to argue that fans fed off the anger of national writers to vent their*anger at ESPN. But this was something more organic, a natural outgrowth of outrage from the ground up as opposed to from*the top down.
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