Penn State student blog inaccurately reports death of Joe Paterno

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Joe Paterno (pictured in 2006) was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team from 1966 to 2011.

A posting yesterday on the social networking web site Twitter by the Pennsylvania State University's student blog Onward State, which incorrectly reported the death of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, has led to the resignation of one of its managing editors. Paterno died today.

Paterno had been hospitalized over the weekend due to complications from lung cancer, and was in serious condition. The Onward State blog had picked up word of his death at the age of 85, which was then posted on Twitter at 8:45 PM EST. Various news organizations began to pick up the story after word of the report had been picked up by CBS. Penn State students held a candlelight vigil in front of a statue of Paterno on campus after word of the erroneous passing.

However, CBS soon retracted the story after posts from other Paterno family members on Twitter reported that Joe had not died. At 10:20 PM EST, the managing editor for Onward State, Devon Edwards, officially retracted the story, saying in another tweet; "Our 8:45 pm tweet about Joe Paterno's death appears to be inaccurate, according to @JayPaterno, who says he's alive. We were confident when we ran with it, and are still trying to figure out where our process failed. We apologize sincerely for error." Additionally, Edwards also announced that he would be resigning from his position at Onward State, effective immediately.

In a blog post officially announcing his resignation, Edwards explained that "In this day and age, getting it first often conflicts with getting it right, but our intention was never to fall into that chasm. All I can do now is promise that in the future, we will exercise caution, restraint, and humility."

This morning, a report officially confirmed that Joe Paterno had died — today — from lung cancer at the age of 85.