False reports of Joe Paterno's death

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  1. Penn State student news website Onward State first reported Joe Paterno's death at 8:45 p.m., citing sources who said an email was sent to football players.
  2. The Onward State website became unreachable, presumably due to huge amounts of incoming traffic.

    A local FM radio station near State College, Pa., seems to have broadcast its own erroneous report around the same time.
  3. Meanwhile, CBS Sports published its obituary saying that Paterno "has died," seemingly based on the Onward State report, but without direct attribution. 
  4. The Huffington Post also published its own report, again based on the Onward State story. HuffPost later acknowledged in a correction that it "did not properly attribute the source."
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  6. The claims spread widely on social networks, sparking multiple trending topics on Twitter and a tweet to @BreakingNews' 3.5 million followers. We even tweeted a link from @Poynter.
  7. Minutes later though, other news organizations contradicted the reports, citing a family spokesperson. New York Times reporter Mark Viera appeared to be among the first.
  8. At that point, CBS Sports updated its obituary to include attribution to the Onward State report and a second paragraph noting contradictory claims. Other news organizations scrambled to react.
  9. Joe Paterno's son, Jay, later tweeted his own report:
  10. Around 9:29, about 45 minutes after its first report, Onward State apologized to its Twitter followers.
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