On Saturday night, while most of the cool kids were out smoking cigarettes in the Taco Bell parking lot, news broke that Penn State coach Joe Paterno had passed away due to complications from lung cancer. Specifically, the first report was published by Onward State, a student newspaper at PSU. The paper claimed that Nittany Lions players received emails informing them that Paterno had passed away, and thus the news was born.
But since nobody outside of Happy Valley is really familiar with Onward State, the news didn’t really get out until CBS Sports picked up the story and ran with it. That’s when all Twitter hell broke loose. You see, as it turned out, Paterno wasn’t dead on Saturday night. As we know, he passed away on Sunday morning. But almost immediately after the CBS story hit and then other major media outlets began picking it up, Paterno’s family came forward and said that JoePa wasn’t dead.
Soon after, once the pieces were put together, Onward State’s editor not only issued a full apology, but he also resigned.
CBS Sports followed suit, less dramatically, and issued an apology to the Paterno family. CBS also admitted that it did not bother trying to verify the reports of a college newspaper before making someone’s death a national story. And I get the whole “We all make mistakes” argument, because I make plenty of them and I’m not even trying to break news. I’m just trying to make a faster dick joke than the next guy.
But since when did a guy’s death become a competition? I just think that if you get a tip that Onward State is reporting that Joe Paterno died, take a few minutes and make a few phone calls to see if anyone who isn’t a student newspaper reporter knows whether or not Paterno actually died. Otherwise, you’re going to look really foolish.
That’s where Twitter stepped in Saturday night and throughout most of Sunday with the trending topic #CBSSPORTSSAYS. I only picked out some of the random Tweets, because there were tens of thousands and a lot of them were repetitive, esoteric or just porn spam virus links, so you can run through the list here if you’re bored. Otherwise, feel free to add your own.