Another of our famous email chains, this one between Armando and I when he got the discussion started:
Pretty enlightening stuff overall – definitely worth a watch (but you will squirm). I know that Casey’s has covered the story ridiculously well, so I won’t touch on that at all. However, I will mention something I saw in this article, all the way at the bottom:
Editor’s Note: In an earlier edition of this report, we mistakenly identified a location of Sandusky’s alleged sexual encounters as Paterno’s home. According to the grand jury report, it was Sandusky’s home.
So you’re allowed to just say something that could be super-damaging, but take it back, essentially because of “oops”? Just think how much more tainted Joe Pa’s already-tainted image would be if it came out that child-touching and shit when down at his crib. The fact that something so blatant, so glaring, and so potentially harmful could EVER see the light of day is just beyond comprehension to me. In my eyes, with something like this, you don’t get takebacks. If you’re the writer or editor of that story and you miss that, you’re done. Finito. It’s harsh, but in this case I think it has to be.
My first response:
I will gladly weigh in, because this media thing is something that I’m kinda interested in/involved in./enjoy ripping on.
You sir are correct about someone getting torn apart for this one. An editor somewhere missed a big one and should get at the very least reemed for this. Sad to say that this is something that happens a little too often for my liking. However, they did do the SOP when you print a mistake. Print a following retraction. However, drawing attention to the mistake can further taint an already rocky public opinion of Paterno, and very unfairly.
Can I say that my journalistic career that I have never done something like this? Well no. But it was no where near as damaging. I mistakenly published a web headline regarding the former Cuyahoga County auditor Frank Russo as Vince Russo. I caught the mistake before the story was up too long, but somehow I doubt the man who killed WCW would like being placed in the middle of a huge governmental kickback scandal…but I digress…
lmao I remember that Vince Russo shit… fucking classic.
But yeah, totally different levels of severity. I think that all mistakes are not created equal for sure. Now that’s not to say that an editor missing a ton of little shit should just get away scot-free, but when dealing with something so heavy, shouldn’t there be some extra level of editing? Like is that a common thing, for really really important stories to get double- or triple-edited?
Oh no, you’re exactly right. And someone should be busted down to Snooki duty for 3 weeks at the very least for screwing something up this big. Both the writer for screwing that up initially and the web editor for missing it. And maybe even the head editor for pushing so hard to get something like that on air so quickly.
Now I know this isn’t really sports, but I think it’s a decent comment on media in general and how the media operates these days. This is not just an indicment of sports journalists (granted, there’s plenty of material to grip about in that category), but really of how we’re fed news in general. I think the point that Armando makes about a small mistake like that being able to change a reader’s perspective on the story and/or the figures in the is very poignant. If you read the original story with the misreporting that Sandusky allegedly met and/or abused a child at Paterno’s home, you completely change Paterno’s entire role in this scandal. He moves from mishandling the story and could be seen as an enabler to an accessory to child abuse. One of those is moral failing, one of those is a felony. That’s a huge gap to jump. So again, way to go NBC. Thanks for showing me that the shame I feel about my chosen field is pretty well founded.