There was a memorial service for Joe Paterno on Thursday.

I think that means the former Penn State football coach really has died.

I sure don’t want to rely on CBS Sports or a website called Onward State for corroboration.

Confirmation of a person’s death becomes pretty clear if there’s a lifeless body lying in a casket and family members giving elegant speeches about his impact on their lives.

That wasn’t so easy to figure out last Saturday night when sloppy reporters used the social media outlet Twitter to tell the world that Paterno had died that night.

The folks from Onward State – a Penn State student website – were inaccurate but that didn’t stop the so-called professionals from CBS Sports to pounce on the report and proclaim Paterno dead. Neither report revealed where the information came from and CBS Sports looked pathetic later when it reworked the erroneous report and blamed Onward State for the mistake.

It told us all a lot about the lack of reporting standards and ethics at CBS Sports. People made fun of the network the rest of the night with fake reports combined with the phrase #CBSSPORTSSAYS … that’s beyond embarrassing when the common folks can deliver such humiliation to what is supposed to be a reputable news source.

The confusion last Saturday night finally ceased once Jay Paterno took time away from the hospital bedside vigil to tweet “CBS report is wrong,” and tell everyone that his father was still alive.

Pretty ridiculous that a family member has to deal with something like that when every remaining second of life is so precious at that time.

What Saturday night’s events displayed is that journalism ethics died before Joe Paterno did.

A reporter shouldn’t report anything without attribution and the standard used to be having the information independently verified by multiple sources.

You surely can’t be 90 percent sure that someone like Joe Paterno has passed away. Even 100 percent sure needs to be double-checked in the case of a legendary figure like the winningest college football coach of all time.

With all the scrutiny Paterno has been under due to the child molestation allegations levied at former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, you better be 150 percent sure the man has died before you write a story or put out a 140-character tweet claiming so.

The Paterno thing wasn’t the only black mark on journalism that week. Reporters who cover the Indianapolis Colts claimed Jim Caldwell would remain as the team’s head coach. Once again, there was no attribution to how the information was obtained and no on-the-record club sources.

Guess what happened the following day?

Caldwell was fired.

If your grocery store is out of eggs, that’s because they were needed in Indianapolis – egg all over the face of sloppy reporters not verifying information to the fullest extent.

I personally have a hard time with the sloppy reporting going on. Making it worse is that I have seen real-live reporters blame the immediacy of Twitter for the problem.

Um, who exactly typed in the information? Uh, who is supposed to verify ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they report?

Sounds more to me like the level of journalism has dropped to an all-time low. That has nothing to do with Twitter and has everything do to with a reporter not living up to the standards of the profession.

I don’t understand why any reporter would have different standards for what they post on Twitter than what would run in the morning paper. You would think the standards would be stricter now because your normal every-day person can easily call you out for being wrong.

A decade or so ago, fans had little recourse – the San Diego Union-Tribune erroneously reported that Mike Riley had been hired as San Diego State football coach and it was left up for athletic director Rick Bay to put out a press release saying there was no validity to the report.

Mess up something like that in today’s social-media world and get prepared for a long day of insults and a long night without sleep.

The scrutiny is much higher now.

Too bad the journalistic standards have become much lower.


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