The Strange Case of the Orlando Thomas Death Story

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Last night, the Vikings‘ official site reported that former safety Orlando Thomas had died after battling ALS for several years. The story was immediately picked up by the Star-Trib and ESPN, and commented upon by luminaries like Dennis Green.

Not long afterward, a man purporting to be Thomas’s former teammate Jake Reed posted on his Twitter page that the report was false and Thomas was very much alive.

Soon after this, the original Vikings.com story disappeared, and the people who’d repeated said story began posting retractions.

Vikings.com finally posted their own explanation:  “Late this afternoon, vikings.com reported information that was erroneously given to the organization by an individual at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Orlando Thomas’ alma mater) stating that former Vikings player Orlando Thomas had passed away from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).”

Evidently, no one at Vikings.com, the Star-Trib or ESPN bothered calling anyone associated with Thomas to confirm the original story.  Basically, they behaved like I and all the other lazy psuedo-journalists in the world would have.

So, here’s the question:  If the mainstream media start acting just like bloggers, how are we to tell the difference between the real journalists and the fake?

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Tags: Dennis Green Jake Reek Minnesota Vikings Orlando Thomas

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