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about 2 years ago

An Apology from the Managing Editor of Onward State

Earlier this evening, Onward State reported that Joe Paterno had passed away; however, the mountain of evidence stacked opposite that report became too much to ignore. At this time, I would like to issue an official retraction of our earlier tweets.

I never, in a million years, would have thought that Onward State might be cited by the national media. Today, I sincerely wish it never had been. To all those who read and passed along our reports, I sincerely apologize for having mislead you. To the Penn State community and to the Paterno family, most of all, I could not be more sorry for the emotional anguish I am sure we at Onward State caused. There are no excuses for what we did. We all make mistakes, but it’s impossible to brush off one of this magnitude. Right now, we deserve all of the criticism headed our way.

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.

I can only hope and pray that the outstanding work our writers and photographers do on a day-to-day basis is not overshadowed by the events of tonight. I understand that our reputation is in serious question, but I hope you will continue to stand by us as we do everything in our power to make amends.

To begin that process, I will be stepping down from my post as Managing Editor, effective immediately. I take full responsibility for the events that transpired tonight, and for the black mark upon the organization that I have caused.

I ask not for your forgiveness, but for your understanding. I am so very, very, sorry, and we at Onward State continue to pray for Coach Paterno.

Sincerely,

Devon Edwards

138 Responses to “An Apology from the Managing Editor of Onward State”

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Jana says:

All the “legitimate” news sources are looking here, because you had the story of Paterno being taken off of a respirator, and there was no denial of that all day.  Paterno has lawyers who can easily brief the media about these health issues if they wanted to, and be first, rather than last in providing information to the media.  Whether they like it or not, this is a big story, and they have to either help the media be more accurate, or not complain about the coverage that ensues, because the media is doing it’s job.  The public has EVERY right to know about this public figure Paterno. 

1988 PSU alumnus says:

Mr. Edwards, having tweeting a critical comment to @OS earlier tonight, I’ll now say this. You are to be commended for this unreserved apology and accepting that being in charge means being accountable. Had more of the figures involved in the Sandusky case shared your sense of responsibility, things might have turned out very differently indeed.

thebocaherald says:

According to previous comments, Onward State reported the school’s   

football players were notified of Paterno’s death by email.”  
 
Can anyone substantiate or provide a copy of this?

BBS says:

When it comes to public figures, it’s different. Unfortunately you didn’t take a Comm Law class while at Michigan. If the family wants total privacy with this, they should have told Joe to get out of coaching about 30 years ago. Don’t take it out on a reporter who actuually has more balls than some internet troll that’s tough behind a keyboard (i.e. you). This is the world we live in. We are a competitive society, like it or not. Businesses try to compete with other businesses. News outlets compete with other outlets to be the first one to report. Hell, you even competed with other students while you were at Michigan. You’re a hypocrite. People like you are what’s wrong with this country.

mpc says:

show some respect to erickson by not using his handle on a sensitive PSU issue. the man has been put into a situation that he had no desire to be in (i know because I personally worked with the guy) and is doing the very best he can. his job is one that certainly nobody wanted.

danvanderlee says:

Are you people really this fucking stupid???? He published the story, so it’s obvious it came from him. All this “he owned up to it”, “real classy offering an apoloy” is a bunch of horseshit! All he’s doing is trying to save face. Don’t applaud the guy for being an asshole!!!

MCSS says:

Mr. Edwards-

I have been a journalist for 22 years and have chosen to remain anonymous in this comment to avoid attention.  That said, I must commend you for taking the responsibility for human error, making the ethical decision to step down and handling an unfortunate situation head on and graciously.

It is a rare thing in today’s world to hear of people owning their own choices and I commend you heartily.  Of course this is not going to ease the pain I am sure you are experiencing, but it speaks volumes to your character.

Following the weekend, you will hear from my network.  I would like to follow your career and explore whether there is an interest in joining my staff.  I would almost gamble this is a mistake which will not be repeated, and with this one out of the way, you’re years beyond many in our field.

Hold your chin up young man and remember the quote of John Wooden:  “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

We will contact you following the weekend.

ih8psu says:

Devon, I can only hope that you don’t pursue a career where more due diligence is required in a professional setting.  Obviously with that said, you shouldn’t go into politics or writing policy when you graduate as a political science major. Perhaps some courses on decision making theory, critical thinking, and information analysis should be incorporated into the political science curriculum, because it isn’t evident that you did any of that.  Alternatively perhaps writing fiction would be more suitable?

Jana says:

Re:  this blip on a radar, a little context:  Ronald Reagan laughed off being shot to his wife (“Honey, I forgot to duck”) and blew off all the erroneous stories of his death.  After all, he lived, so why should he care?  The Pope forgave the man who shot him and visited him in prison.  He died within hours or days of when he was reported dead.   These were BIG men who handled a lot worse than a false story in their lifetimes.

bob says:

you are an incompetant individual, several sources reported his death.  You have no right to say such a thing and I hope your minimum wage job treats you well.

ih8psu says:

Those sources (CBS) cited OnwardState as reporting JoePa’s death.  Because of posts that Devon made, which have been removed from OS.  Which Devon so admits to having made, that in itself serves as a clarion call for attention.

BTW, you spelled ‘incompetant’ incompetently. So spell it right, if you’re going to be an ‘incompetant [sic] individual.’

Jana says:

The reporters that should resign are the ones that were “covering” Paterno and his program for years, and NEVER reported a word, or bothered to investigate anything at that program, leading to the massive scandal that we have today. 

Jim In Panama says:

most of the media are totally without a clue about anything ….. don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re just another asshat who managed to suck up enough to someone in power to get a job drooling on line and get paid for it

Kath says:

I think we’re all missing the bigger picture here. Why can’t we support a fellow student who honorably admits to error? I didn’t learn about JoePa’s supposed death through OnWard State, so Devon wasn’t the only one at fault. If tonight taught us anything, it should be the emphasis on what’s important and what’s not. Devon’s error is not important. JoePa showed us that you don’t have to be a hero in everyone’s eyes, but you can still make a difference. Devon, I applaud you. Thank you for not shrinking behind others or ignoring your responsibility. You got it wrong, but who fucking cares? The matter was over a life, but it’s not worth hurting a life over. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and please don’t give up writing because of this.
-K

tony smith says:

Powerful statement. But don’t beat yourself up too long. The national media bears responsiblity for its own mistakes. You are not a professional. You are a young student. They are paid to do this. And we know that NO ONE in the professional media will resign for this. Kudos for taking responsibility. 

tony smith says:

Unduly harsh criticism. I am a professional. In fact, I am an attorney. I have been practicing law for over 20 years. Professionals have greater responsibility. This person is still a student and has a lot to learn. You, Bob, could learn something about modesty and humility. Grow up.

Juliana Smithton says:

I do not belive the a journalist of a college paper needs to resign over an error.  I can understand the confusion due to the serious state of Joe Paterno’s health.  I do not think he bears the responsibility that he is shouldering and he is learning.  I think his co-workers and friends should talk him into not resigning and understanding that he made an honest mistake and did not mean to intentionally hurt anyone.   

Jim says:

For the last few years, I have been waiting for an Onward State scre-up of this magnitude. I really have. You’re not journalists. You’re not a legitiamte media outlet. You’re half a rung above The Collegian for the sole reason that your website is actually usable. I think you can see where I stand on this.

That being said, you guys have balls the size of Volkswagens. You did something that I have never seen a mainstream media outlet do in my short lifetime – you owned up to a mistake and promised consequences. Granted, these consequences aren’t life-wrecking decisions; nobody on your staff is going to miss this month’s mortgage payment as a result of this fiasco. Even so, you have shown a level of honesty, sincerity, and integrity that I thougt had died along with Walter Cronkite.

I’m sure that a number of your staff plan to pursue careers in journalism, so I’ll leave you with this. If those of you who plan to move into the media industry show half as much class as your Managing Editor has shown tonight, the American media system will be a much better (and more reliable) place.

As an aside, there’s no reason for anyone to resign. Keep on being snarky (I’m told that’s your “thing”), and everything will be fine.

Juliana Smithton says:

I do not believe that a journalist of a college paper needs to resign over an error.  I can understand the confusion due to the serious state of Joe Paterno’s health.  I do not think he bears the responsibility that he is shouldering.  Co-workers and friends should talk him into not resigning and understanding that he made an honest mistake and did not mean to intentionally hurt anyone.   

Robert M Kraus says:

the motives and the sincerity of Edwards are questionable . . . . he should get out of journalism and get over the I-wanna-be-first complex

r m kraus/akron

DonnaRae-Messinger says:

I feel everyone makes mistakes unfortnately. The truth did come, Joe is still with us. No one would be more understanding than Joe Paterno, that mistakes do happen. To Penn State Board, you made a hugh mistake and have not taken respondsiabilty as of yet. The country is watching, especially with the serrious health of Joe Paterno.

josh says:

they just want attention. Sadly, this poor attempt at garnering the public  is only going to further tarnish the image of pedo state university.

GTWMA says:

There has never been a perfect person or a perfect organization on the face of this earth.  You’ve demonstrated true character in how you’ve handled the error, one that many people and organizations made tonight and handled in a far less professional manner.

Ann Melnyk says:

The BOT needs to follow your wonderful example; you took responsibility in a timely fashion and offered entire accountability.  I don’t think after the powerfull apology you expressed, that anyone wants you to step down.  Thank you for showing us your character; the newspaper should be proud of the way you handled things.  Don’t let any of the negative comments go to heart; they need to get a life and get a heart!

paula guarracino says:

I’m interested to know what sources led you to believe that Joe had passed away.  I know a “good” reporter doesn’t reveal his sources but, obviously, your sources must have fabricated this information and, therefore, can’t be considered a source since the information was a lie.  Even a poor reporter would have checked with a family member to confirm or deny; and, as it turned out, Joe’s sons did speak out to deny the report.  Joe Paterno was never given due process during this whole tragedy but was sentenced and punished before the actual criminal. Now this.  At least the editor did the right thing and stepped down.

paula guarracino says:

Mr Paterno is no longer a public figure and no one has the right to know about his medical condition.  That information is protected by law.  If there had been a rumor that Mr. Paterno had passed, the reporter should have asked for a comment from the family before running with the story.  Then Joe’s sons or lawyer could have confirmed or denied the story.  It’s not the lawyer’s nor the family’s responsiblity to go on the record.  They weren’t running the story.

Amanda says:

I have a few things to say being a graduate of a journalism school:

1. You are a student. You are in school to make mistakes. If you don’t, then you won’t learn anything or be prepared for a career in this field. 

2. While you should not have published the information you did, it is up to the other media sources to check their facts and not cite you and your staff as a source. 

3. While I don’t feel this is a case of first vs. right, I still think it would do your staff good to sit down with some of your professors and talk about what happened last night. They are there to help you.

Every news source has printed material without checking facts first. You are not the first to have done so. 

You are not in the real world just yet. Make those mistakes while you can.

You are still a student. Learn from this and go forward.

John says:

Penn State has taken a lot of brutal punishment for the past few months, but this takes the cake. 

How can you say you never thought that you would be cited in the national media, but fight so hard to become “first” to report a story?

Ryan says:

Hey Devon,

Remember when you ragged on CCR on ComRadio? I’ll get you a napkin to wipe the egg of your face.

Tool

Vista Resident says:

This situation is one of major concern. What on earth would cause “Onward Mistake” to print such a story? It’s baffling that no confirmation was attempted prior to releasing this. This has to be the most idiotic and selfish act that anybody has ever published.

Tony says:

With all due respect, Amanda, they are in the “real world” now. College is not some fantasy land, and the things that people do in college still have consequences. This is pretty good evidence of that fact.

That said, of course people make mistakes–including the mainstream media. Onward State did the right thing to publish a retractiion and apology–and pretty quickly, I might add.

Let’s just not pretend that there are no real consequences to decisions students make in their lives.

ih8psu says:

Tony, harsh criticism by whom?  Does the ‘designation’ of being a student absolve one of responsibility?  Perhaps in societal expectations.  But consider that Devon also took upon a position that requires responsibility as the Managing Editor.  It is apparent he failed in that position, and thus the responsibility of that position.  As far as being a student? There are students throughout the campus that work on projects that have responsibilities that can not be so easily brushed aside by stating “it’s ok, you’re a student” on something that is released to the public, or can have an impact.  From my personal experiences with the projects I am and have been involved with at PSU, saying “I’m a student, not a professional” would not, and is not acceptable for mistakes.  As those mistakes would result in errors in risk management, counter/terrorism, and policy.

It’s unfortunate that Devon’s error in judgement has garnered such attention, as well as having such a similar level of impact on people.  Even though as a ‘student (of life –as we all are)’ he will hopefully learn and not continue to make mistakes of this caliber.

Truf says:

AP now reporting family sources have confirmed that Joe Pa has died. So Devon jumped the gun by a couple hours…big deal.

If only the BOT and senior leadership of the University has as much integrity as Devon to admit when they are wrong…

paula guarracino says:

A student can be expelled for plagiarism; although not fact checking is not the same, it is still as serious.  I do commend the editor for stepping down.  It was the right thing to do; there has to be consequences for irresponsibility.  And, it’s not the end of his life but a lesson learned.  All media outlets who ran this story are responsible for fact checking.  That the main problem with internet news; it doesn’t cost what it does to publish the printed word and so anyone can pretty much write anything to fill the endless space on the internet.

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