OT: Jacobi fired by CBS for Paterno Pre-bituary

Submitted by BiSB on January 27th, 2012 at 1:44 PM

CBS Sports writer and former BHGP blogger Adam Jacobi has been fired by CBS for incorrectly reporting Joe Paterno's death. Not terribly surprising, even to him:

Adam_Jacobi Adam Jacobi
I had an awesome 17 months with CBSSports.com. I'm sorry to everyone, most importantly the Paterno family, for how it ended.


Adam_Jacobi Adam Jacobi

In the end, CBS had to let me go for the Paterno story going out the way it did, and I understand completely. Thanks, everyone, for reading.



January 27th, 2012 at 1:59 PM ^

the first time this has happened with a major news organization jumping the gun on someones passing. I remember when the late Frank Reynolds from ABC announced former press secretary James Brady's death the day of President Reagan's assassination attempt. Reynolds bellowed on air "we are paid to get the story right!".

I believe NBC  jumped the gun on Joe DiMaggio's death. It has been said that Joltin Joe was lucid enough the have watched that report.

The media also camped outside Jackie Onassis' apartment awaiting her end with some premature reports coming there as well.

I just wish the media- all media- would let an official announcement come out first on the death of a famous individual. The dying person's famuly is at least due that courtesy.



January 27th, 2012 at 2:28 PM ^

but you're kind of a tool.  

Adam has been an outsanding blogger for years.  He fucked up pretty bad here, but if Mitch Albom is still employed and winning awards after being outed as a fabulist, I see no reason why Jacobi should be forever barred from journalism for actually making a mistake.  


January 27th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

You are honestly comparing the sin of reporting that two program alums flew to a Final Four game in MSU sweatshirts with wrongly reporting the death of one of the most famous figures in college football history and huge recent newsmaker?

And I'm pretty sure that most people here as well as most diehard sports fans in Detroit would have loved to see Mitch Albom get the axe for that ordeal. Freep keeps him because Albom because his writing aimed at Soccer Moms (rarely in the sports section anymore) has become a huge part of their brand. Jacobi doesn't exactly have that kind of clout.






January 27th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

Jacobi wanted to be first. He went to reprehensible lengths to do that.

Two sources should be trusted in that situation: a) The Paterno family b) Doctor/Hospital administrator from State College. He obviously went with someone else.

Career DONE.



January 27th, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

He relied on a report from a Penn State site.  That report was wrong and Jacobi should not have run with it until he had additional sources.  Firing him was totally understandable and probably appropriate.  Crappy sourcing is also a mistake that happens all the time, and I would wager lots of money that it is not an automatic career-ender.  Nor should it be, because it's an indication of a correctable error (sloppiness) rather than some kind of ethical failing.

Mitch Albom made up shit that never happened because he's a lazy piece of crap who is too busy trying to squeeze pennies out of old people.  He recently won the Red Smith award.  


January 27th, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

Crappy sourcing can't happen on a story that big. You don't submit a piece of news like that on a major news site unless you are certain.

Simple question: If Adam Jacobi broke another story about something for another outlet, would you buy it wholesale after this incident? If you say yes, you're a sucker.

Of course Mitch Albom is lazy. I never defended him. But so is Jacobi.


January 27th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

I have a policy of not buying any breaking story wholesale until it has been confirmed by multiple outlets.  

That aside, the issue I thought we were discussing was "should this incident keep Adam Jacobi from ever being employed in journalism again?"  Aside from my Mitch Albom example, I can't help but notice that Kirk Herbstreit is still employed despite doing the exact same thing with the Les Miles to Michigan story (as far as I know, he wasn't even suspended).  

Jacobi is a good blogger/journalist/writer/whatever, and has done a ton of good work, both at at BHGP and CBS Sports, for several years.  To say that he's forever barred because he rushed a story out the door without nailing down the facts (which, again, is something that happens quite frequently), seems like an absurd instance of selective punishment.


January 27th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

Life isn't always fair. In a perfect world, Mitch Albom and Kirk Herbstreit would have no business being in the positions they still are in, but they are celebrities more than journalists. Their names are brands.

Adam Jacobi is not a celebrity. Most average joe's had no idea who he was before this. The first thing any potential employer will see when they look at him now is the guy who spread the word to millions that Joe Paterno was dead when he wasn't because they know that readers will identify him with that more than whatever work he did in the pasth. It won't be nearly as easy for him to recover as those other examples.



January 27th, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

And the dirty secret about celebrity obituaries is that news outlets usually write them well in advance of the person's death, especially when the person is old. 

Also, don't big news companies like CBS employ fact-checkers?  Is Jacobi the only person losing his job over this?

mnb zach

January 27th, 2012 at 10:53 PM ^

fabricating an important detail of a story days ahead of time is way worse than being the second in line in misreporting a piece of news that spiraled horribly out of control after a hoax.  Wait, that's not what you meant.

Not saying Jacobi didn't screw up --- you've got to get confirmation for these things --- but what Mitch Albom did was an outright lie, not a stupid mistake.

Jacobi is good people.  He deserves --- and will get --- another shot.


January 27th, 2012 at 2:03 PM ^

Too bad that it happened, but it's sort of nice to see that CBS has the stones to level a punishment for a failure of journalistic integrity.  Can you imagine ESPN doing this?  Didn't think so.


January 27th, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

How does firing Jacobi changed what happened? Does CBS feel exonerated? And what about his bosses who signed off on the story? Did he get fired?
<br>I have no dog in this fight. I've never read Jacobi and I don't visit cbssports.com. I just think firing someone for this seems wrong.


January 27th, 2012 at 2:25 PM ^

um, correct me if i'm wrong... but nothing can change what happened. unless i missed the unveiling of the time machine. best you can do is punish those responsible to deter it from happening again in the future.

as for his boss(es), certainly some responsibility rests there, but if the conversation before they ran it went like this "it's your ass on the line if you're wrong" i could understand a reprimand instead of getting canned.


January 27th, 2012 at 4:16 PM ^

Of course firing him doesn't change what happened.  But I think, if I'm hired by a media/news organization, it is a reasonable expectation that my work on the job have consequences.  If I do a great job (e.g., broke a legit story on a scandal), I'm sure they would take that work (which after all, is obviously in the past) and perhaps give me a bonus or better job title or something.  On the flip, if I commit about as big an error as one can in sports news, it's reasonable to expect being fired - his poor work hurt not just him, but his employer's reputation.

Second, don't think some future cbssports.com writer won't think twice if he finds himself in a similar situation where he has a hot tip. He'll remember that Jacobi lost his job, and perhaps that cbs writer will do some extra due diligence before going with the story (which ultimately will make both him and his employer better off).

I don't have anything against Jacobi and hopefully he can find work elsewhere.  It just shouldn't (and won't) be at CBS.


January 27th, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

Smart for tweeting this way.  Not burning bridges and showing respect will be helpful in his future opportunities.  (In contract to a bitter pissed off attitude)

Hardware Sushi

January 27th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

Sooooo...can someone here for the life of me explain the interest in being the first to report that a famous person is dead?

I get the idea of breaking a story - but breaking someone's death isn't some grand piece of investigatory journalism like Bernstein and Woodward breaking Watergate - everybody knows when someone famous dies.

It's great to remember what individuals contributed to society over their lifetime and celebrate their triumphs, but I don't understand how being 15 minutes (or 12 hours, or whatever) early is worth it.

Maybe this post should've gone in Brian's front page thread. I just don't get the infatuation with announcing death.

Hardware Sushi

January 27th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

Haha this is funny.

I've said something similar (about a different poster) and apparently the guy was upset so I ended up getting served one of those scary "don't attack other users" emails from the MGoJudicial system.

I don't know why but I felt really bad, as if I let someone important down. Like a kid when an adult gets pissed at you.

Anyway, the comment is hilarious. If you get an email, don't let it ruin your Friday night.

Hardware Sushi

January 27th, 2012 at 4:54 PM ^

Also working since '08. The key difference between you and benoitballs is a baby.

Warning to all people that like the college lifestyle: Having a baby will make your life ≠ college.

Luckily my friends have learned this lesson for me. Not that there's anything wrong w/babies if you're into that sorta thing haha....


January 27th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

I'm happy he was fired. Reporting a person's death prematurely is complete bullshit. It's about time the media began to at least slightly police itself. 


January 27th, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

I see that i'm in the minority here. I understand it was a mistake but jeesh to fire the guy?  thats a bit much in my book especially when the media often takes a rumor and embellishes it with a 15 minute expose which has them standing outside a local HS/City Council/Gov/Sports team talking about nothing other than "we heard something".