Saturday, January 21, 2012

WE ARE....duped

I didn't go to Penn State but I spent an awful lot of time there. I went to Lock Haven and spent many weekends with friends at Penn State. After college, my husband (then boyfriend) and I moved to State College and spent 4+ years immersed in the passionate familial culture that is Happy Valley. Needless to say, I was devestated to learn the details of the Penn State scandal. Not only was I disgusted at the allegations made against Jerry Sandusky, but I was equally disgusted at how the scandal was handled, both by Penn State's board and the national media. I won't go into too much detail about why I disagree with Paterno's firing, nor will I put anyone on blast. Instead, I just want to reiterate how important it is to make sure you trust the right sources for your information. If tonight's gross negligence doesn't put doubt into your mind about the information you think you know about the scandal, you're probably someone that just can't admit when he's wrong.

Tonight, Onward State mistakenly reported that JoePa had lost his battle with lung cancer. The story was picked up by media outlets from Huffington Post to People magazine to CBSSports. Everyone was reporting that he had passed. Facebook exploded with tributes to JoePa as his Penn State family began mourning this extraordinary loss. Within about twenty minutes, people started disputing the "fact" that he had died. It wasn't until I switched to a 2nd social media site, Twitter, that I saw a confirmed report, from a reliable source, that JoePa had not died. His son Jay tweeted that his dad was continuing his fight. WHAT? How could a "confirmed" story be false? Oh, maybe it wasn't confirmed! Onward State claimed to have documents to confirm the report that JoePa had passed. Onward State was cited as the confirmed source for People, Huffington Post and CBSSports.

Minutes ago the managing editor of Ownard State stepped down with a formal letter to the public. People are saying it's too dramatic and that he should not step down. Are you serious? This person is responsible for this report going viral based on unconfirmed rumors that were reported to be confirmed. That is an inexcusable breach of ethics in reporting and stepping down is the only right thing to do. You get kudos for doing the right thing, not sympathy for stepping down.

Hopefully this teaches our media outlets a lesson: Getting it first should NEVER trump getting it right. Sadly, I bet it won't.

Thank you, Jay for letting your dad's fans know what was really going on. On behalf of every media source reporting half truths and unconfirmed "truths" throughout this entire tragedy, I apologize to you and your family. Your family, and specifically your dad, continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. WE ARE...

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