A historic Twitter moment.
Over the weekend, the internet embarrassed itself once again when a Penn State student website called the Onward State prematurely reported Joe Paterno’s death. At 8:45 PM on Saturday, the website tweeted: “Our sources can now confirm: Joseph Vincent Paterno has passed away tonight at the age of 85.” CBS Sports, The Huffington Post, and SB Nation — all in a rush to get their stories up first to rank well in Google — posted stories of their own minutes later without attributing their information or checking their own sources. The Paterno family debunked the news shortly thereafter and a lot of yolk was on a lot of peoples’ faces.
The student editor of the newspaper stepped down hours later, but the aftermath has spread far beyond that, not the least of which has been the many voices blaming Twitter for the spread of false information. Ronnie Ramos of the National Sports Journalism Center offers a counterpoint here, positing that the problem is not with Twitter itself, but with simply reporting responsibly in any medium.