Daily Archives: January 22, 2012

I asked Onward State founder and general manager Davis Shaver about interview requests, media coverage of Onward State’s error, and the role that former managing editor Devon Edwards will now have in his news organization. Shaver’s email:

I have not been receiving as many media requests as former managing editor Devon Edwards. Most notably, [ProPublica social media editor] Dan Victor and I will be chatting in a few minutes.

Davis Shaver

I feel that the reports and commentary are fair. We committed a grave mistake last night, and dealt severe damage to our credibility and reputations both personal and organizational. As I mentioned in my post, though, it is our intent to learn everything possible from this experience to ensure it doesn’t happen again. For an organization that’s just over three years old, there are still many ways for us to improve, and this is just the latest evolutionary stage of our editorial process.

Devon will remain affiliated with the organization as a Staff Member. He is an experienced Penn State student journalist, and a valuable member of our team. The mutually-reached decision for him to resign his position as managing editor indicates complete and unreserved accountability for our mistake; however, Devon did not err out of malice or other ill-intent, and therefore we did not think it necessary for him to be removed from the organization entirely.

* Davis Shaver: What happened last night with the Paterno error

When real-estate developer Doug Manchester bought the San Diego Union-Tribune (now called U-T San Diego) in November, the Los Angeles Times reported that “an immediate concern in San Diego is whether Manchester, known for never running from a political controversy, will use the newspaper to advance his financial interests or his disputes with governmental bodies such as the Coastal Commission.”

That commission, in early November, rejected Manchester’s proposal to build hotels along the San Diego waterfront.

The newspaper owner comes out swinging today with a front page editorial (at left), “New vision needed for downtown waterfront to realize vast potential” and an inside editorial, “Making the vision a reality.”


This is disheartening. The priority no. one [#1] of the paper is realizing this bold vision of downtown redevelopment? How about priority no. one being bringing is accurate news.

The newspaper — no doubt anticipating criticism — responded:

That is our priority, each and every day. That is the focus and mission of the newsroom. This is an editorial campaign being launched by our publisher and the editorial pages, which is separate and distinct from the newsroom operations. Thanks for your interest.

* Page One editorial: New vision needed for downtown waterfront
* Inside editorial: Making the vision a reality
* Earlier: Manchester appoints himself San Diego’s top cheerleader
* Praise for the Union-Tribune’s Watchdog Team

Onward State founder and general manager Davis Shaver explains how the site came to inaccurately report that Joe Paterno had died:

Around 8:00 p.m., one of our writers posted that he had received word from a source that Joe Paterno had died.

Joe Paterno

The source had been forwarded an email ostensibly sent from a high-ranking athletics official (later found to be a hoax) to Penn State athletes with information of Paterno’s passing. A second writer — whom we later found out had not been honest in his information — confirmed to us that the email had been sent to football players. With two independent confirmations of an email announcing his death, managing editor Devon Edwards was confident in the story and hit send on the tweet we had written, informing the world that Joe Paterno had died.

* What happened last night at @OnwardState

* On accuracy and apologies: 10 lessons for newsrooms

Former Greensboro News & Record editor John Robinson asks:

What would you do if you ran a newspaper and discovered that:
* Half of your employees — including those in circulation — don’t subscribe?
* Half of your employees — including those in the newsroom — don’t read the paper (except for their own stories)?
* Half of your employees don’t subscribe to your e-newsletters?
* Half of your employees don’t have your website as the homepage on their computers?

“I believe there is a great deal of information within your own workforce that can guide you to improve your paper and digital presence,” writes Robinson. “If you can get them to be honest in explaining why the paper isn’t worth their time to read or money to subscribe, then that should guide some improvements.”

*What would you do if you ran a newspaper and…?

*Read the comments about this post on my Facebook page

Veteran sports journalist Jason Whitlock reached out to Devon Edwards late Saturday night after the Penn State student resigned as managing editor of Onward State for reporting that Joe Paterno had died.

“Can’t express how proud I am of the way you handled your mistake. You have the integrity to be an awesome journalist,” Whitlock wrote in one tweet. He said in another: “@Devon2012 please keep me in the loop on if u need assistance getting established in the business.”

“Thanks, Jason,” the student replied. “I really appreciate the kind words.”

A preacher from Culpepper, Virginia, told Edwards in a tweet: “You made a mistake. It happens. You owned up to it. That almost never happens. That’s ok in my book.”

Preacher Adam Shellenbarger< added: “Actually, your situation tonight lends itself perfectly for my sermon tomorrow. I’ll give you tons of praise. May I use it?”

“Go for it,” tweeted Edwards.

Edwards declined my interview request this morning. He wrote in an email:

Thanks for reaching, but right now, I’m just going to stay quiet and try and let this whole thing blow over. I appreciate you approaching me to tell my side of the story, but I think the statement on Facebook and our site says all that I could and would like to at this time.

* Earlier: Onward State managing editor resigns after incorrect Paterno report
* Onward State managing editor posts resignation letter on Facebook
* apologizes to Paterno family for incorrect report