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YDR sports editor showed resolve, reserve among swirl of Paterno rumors

The York Daily Record/Sunday News’ front page today is shown, leading in to coverage of Joe Paterno’s death.  Sports Editor Chris Otto led the coverage crossing many platforms – social media, mobile, print – and at the same time told the story via Twitter: YDRChrisOtto.

Saturday evening was awash with rumors about Joe Paterno’s death, led by an erroneous report picked up by CBS Sports and the Huffington Post.

That later resulted in the resignation of an editor with a student-run website, originator of that report.

Here’s a sample of York Daily Record Chris Otto’s tweets in the heat of the battle, when big-time players were saying Paterno died:

– “Yes, we’re seeing the Paterno rumors, too. Nothing from anything resembling a legitimate source, but we’re monitoring.”

– “Journalists on both sides of this Paterno rumor — dire vs. not dire — need to start citing their sources by name. Step up, someone.”

– “The fact that CBS put its integrity on the line bc of reports from a student blog blows my mind /via@brittanylion. (That’s YDR’s Brittany Wilson).

– “Sons Jay and Scott Paterno both just tweeted that their father is still alive.”

– “Really, CBS Sports, was it that important to get it out there first?”

And a reader paid Chris a great compliment:

“I will wait to hear from @YDRChrisOtto or http://PennLive.com or CentreDailyTimes before I make assumptions.”

Otto’s post mortem:

“YDR was thisclose to reporting Paterno’s death. CBS almost convinced me, but I was dismayed by no sourcing. @Scott_Blanchard taught me well.” (Blanchard is the YDR’s Sunday editor and heads our investigations projects.)

And I said this in an email to Chris the next day:

“Beautiful job last night. Your tweets had the right amount of information, humor, righteous indignation – and reserve.”


Also of interest:

Insightful piece by Daniel Victor, poynter.org: ‘How Penn State student website evolved from ‘online coffee house’ to breaking news’