CBS employee fired over Paterno episode

Poynter reports:  Former employee Adam Jacobi says CBS let him go after he published a story last Saturday night saying that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had died when he was still alive.

If this was a first time mistake, I’d say CBS committed overkill in letting Jacobi go. Instead he might have been suspended for a month, told to make a formal apology to the Paterno family (I believe he did that already) and given an opportunity to apply what he had learned from his mistake to help be better at what it does.

BTW: The Wrap’s Tim Malloy reported that others jumped the gun in erroneously reporting Paterno’s death: :

“By then several news outlets and reporters, including TheWrap, The Huffington Post, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Howard Kurtz, the host of the journalism standards show “Reliable Sources,” had written about the death, all after the CBS report. Even the group Poynter, a champion of accurate journalism,  tweeted that Paterno had died.”

The burden of proof remains on CBS and others to do better. I suspect most who screwed-up would admit so.

Hopefully, all these organizations have new vetting guidelines in place to remind journalists and other news employees that independent fact verification is a non-negotiable part of every news story published, tweeted, or broadcast,,,,,and every news organization’s credibility with their audience.

See:  -and-


About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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