Over the weekend Joe Paterno (legendary Penn State football coach) died. He actually died twice, which is about twice as many times as most people.
To clarify, Paterno actually only died once.
But, about 12 hours before he actually died, it was reported by a Penn State student paper that Paterno had succumbed to the lung cancer that he had been fighting for some time.
When the student paper sent the news out on Twitter, CBS Sports retweeted it. Not long after, it turned out to be untrue.
The editor of the student paper resigned. As far as I know, nothing happened to anyone at CBS.
The mind of the journalist is something of a mystery to me. In this day in age, with things like Twitter, why do a lot of media people still think that reporting a story first is important?
News comes at us faster than it ever has before. What advantages are there to sharing it a nanosecond sooner? Someone will retweet you? So what?
There was a time when news took days to get around to people, but it’s the 21st century. No longer is there a sea of reporters in suits and fedoras rushing to phone booths to call the office in New York. There aren’t even phone booths anymore!
At the end of the day, getting it first isn’t nearly as important as getting it right. If you report that someone is dead and they aren’t, you’re embarrassing yourself and the people that employ you.
Don’t pretend that retweeting something isn’t the same as reporting it, either. If you can’t be bothered to verify your story, then you’re bad at your job.
Check the facts. Find some sources. Get it right.