Twitter and the death of Joe Pa

In 2012, several media outlets reported former controversial Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had died, even though he remained alive in a hospital bed.

The story broke incorrectly after Onward State, an independent student publication at PSU, learned of a rumored email to athletes telling of Paterno’s death.

One of the student journalists responsible wasn’t entirely honest with his editors and said he’d seen the email. The email, was later proven to be a hoax. But, the student organization ran with the story. Other outlets like CBS Sports, The Huffington Post and MSNBC’s all ran with the story without verifying its facts. Many simply attributed the information to Onward State without consulting Paterno’s family.

Within hours, Paterno’s family had refuted the story.

Apologies and retractions were issued by most of the media outlets after Joe Pa had trended on Twitter because of the reported death.

The managing editor of Onward State swiftly resigned because of the misreported information.

Paterno died the next day.


About robbykorth

I'm a journalist a The Roanoke Times. I'm passionate about finding good stories and telling them in a creative way with creative writing. I love the entire process of creating journalism from the reporting to putting the ideas on the page.
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