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George Hale’s Perspective on Sports: The Media 

WE ARE A WEEK BEFORE THE SUPERBOWL AND SEVEN DAYS OF HYPE AND SOME FOOLISHNESS LEADING UP TO KICKOFF ON FEBRUARY 5TH.SO TONIGHT, RATHER THAN GET INTO ALL OF THAT I THOUGHT THAT I WOULD COMMENT ON ANOTHER ISSUE THAT SURFACED A WEEK AGO.AND THAT WAS THE PREMATURE AND ERRONEOUS REPORT THAT PENN STATE COACH JOE PATERNO HAD DIED BEFORE HE HAD ACTUALLY PASSED AWAY.THE MESS THE MEDIA, BOTH PROFESSIONAL AND AMATUER, GOT INTO SHOULD GIVE ALL OF US PAUSE TO REFLECT AND THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED.IN THIS DAY AND AGE OF 24/7 NEWS, BLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA THE PREMATURE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PATERNO DEATH WAS EMBARRASING AND VERY WRONG.IT WAS A SIMPLE “TWEET” BY THE EDITOR OF A STUDENT RUN NEWSPAPER THAT CAUSED THE CHAIN OF EVENTS WHICH WENT VIRAL.THERE HAD BEEN NO OFFICIAL WORD PUT OUT FROM THE UNIVERSITY, THE HOSPITAL OR THE FAMILY ABOUT THE CONDITION OF PATERNO.BUT ONCE AGAIN THE DESIRE TO BE “FIRST” TRUMPED WHAT ALL OF US IN THE JOURNALISM BUSINESS WERE TAUGHT FROM THE BEGINNING.ALWAYS CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK AND TRIPLE CHECK YOUR SOURCES.WHAT IS SO DISTURBING ABOUT THIS IS THAT IT WAS A NETWORK ORGANIZATION, C-B-S SPORTS, WHO FORGOT JOURNALISIM 101.ONCE C-B-S POSTED THE STORY IT WENT WORLDWIDE.PROBLEM WAS…IT WASN’T TRUE.TO BE HONEST I GOT PULLED IN LIKE SO MANY OTHERS.I HAPPENED TO BE ON FACEBOOK AND POSTED THAT THE GREAT COACH HAD PASSED AWAY.I HAVE SOME 2,000 “FRIENDS” AND MANY STARTED REPOSTING.THIS OCCURRED OVER AND OVER AROUND THE COUNTRY.AFTER ALL IF C-B-S SPORTS HAD POSTED THE STORY IT MUST BE TRUE.SUDDENLY, WITHIN ABOUT A HALF HOUR, OTHER POSTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA STARTED SAYING THAT PATERNO WAS STILL ALIVE.IT TURNED OUT THAT SONS SCOTT AND JAY LEFT THEIR FATHER’S BEDSIDE TO POST “TWEETS” THAT JO-PA WAS STILL FIGHTING AND INDEED WAS ALIVE.WE CAN ALL LEARN A LESSION FROM THIS SAD EPISODE.THE LANDSCAPE HAS CHANGED BUT NOT THE RULES.IN THIS NEW DIGITAL AGE WE LIVE IN EVEN THE GENERAL PUBLIC MUST USE CAUTION AND EXERCISE CONTROL OVER WHAT WE POST AND SAY ON-LINE.HARDLY A DAY GOES BY WHEN SOME RUMOR OR HOAX IS BEING PERPETRATED ON THE PUBLIC THRU FACEBOOK OR TWITTER.I WOULD LIKE TO HOPE THAT ALL OF US WHO DO THIS FOR A LIVING WOULD TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND GO BACK TO BASICS WE WERE TAUGHT.GETTING THERE “FIRST” IS NOT ALWAYS THAT BEST IDEA.JUST THINK OF SOME OF THE STORIES RECENTLY THAT WERE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE TRUTH.JON BON-JOVI, REPORTED DEAD, WAS VERY MUCH ALIVE.REPRESENTATIVE GABRIELLE GIFFORDS WAS REPORTED TO HAVE DIED FROM HER GUNSHOT WOUNDS WHICH OBVIOUSLY WAS UNTRUE.SADLY, WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PATERNO CASE MAY ONLY BE A GLIMPSE OF OUR FUTURE.IT IS VERY HARD TO PUT THE GENIE BACK IN THE BOTTLE ONCE IT’S OUT.UNLESS WE ALL TAKE A STEP BACK AND REMEMBER THE BASICS THE JOE PATERNO STORY WILL BE REPEATED OVER AND OVER IN THE FUTURE.ONE OF THESE TIMES SOMEONE WILL NOT CATCH THE ERROR AND SEVERE DAMAGE WILL BE DONE.