This past Saturday evening an alert from CBS Marketwatch came across my Email announcing that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has succumbed to cancer.
The article on CBSSports.com was a single paragraph, so I pulled up ESPN.com for more of the story. I found only a headline reporting that Coach Paterno was seriously ill.
It was the same on WashingtonPost.com. Coach Paterno was in grave condition, yet very much alive.
Kudos to CBSSports.com I thought for breaking the news before its competitors. That is until it surfaced the CBSSports.com fell victim to publishing an erroneous tweet from Onward State, a student run Web site that covers the State College, PA community.
The aftermath of this news debacle has been defined by apologies and reflection. In his resignation, the managing editor of Onward State acknowledged that in today’s media “getting it first often conflicts with getting it right.”
Press, pundits, intellectuals, analysts and bloggers will debate what can be done to improve the accuracy and integrity of news coverage. I take a more pragmatic view – this is the new reality of online news and commentary.
Let the reader beware.
Regardless of the perceived credibility of the publishing source, it is imperative that each of us question, check and confirm before accepting a story as fact.
Yes…as consumers of online news and insight we now need to take part ownership of the editorial peer review process.
It will require more time, yet it’s not such a bad thing. We will actually be forced to think a bit more about the world around us.