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January 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The mea culpas proliferated throughout the media on Thursday over the lack of fact-checking of linebacker Manti Te’o account of his relationship with a girl who died on the same day that his grandmother did and inspired a superb performance on the playing field for Notre Dame two days later. On Wednesday, revealed that the entire account was a hoax, calling into question whether Te’o was a victim or a perpetrator. So, why had no other media outlet checked it out? Former Newsday editor/critic Diane Werts wrote on media watcher Jim Romanesko’s website: “One thing nobody seems to mention in excoriating early media acceptance of the Manti Te’o girlfriend tale … is that many reporters are no longer given time to report. For print … they’re too busy blogging, Tweeting, dashing out ‘breaking news’ alerts. … Many, if not most, reporters abhor this, but going along is the way they keep their jobs. And we all know how few of those are left.” But other journalists refused to excuse themselves. Rachel Terlep, who covers Notre Dame football for two years at the Elkhart Truth, an Indiana newspaper located near the university, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper that when she learned that what she had been writing about Te’o was untrue, it was “like getting your legs cut out from underneath you.” Writing on the website for the Columbia Journalism Review, Robert Weintraub a sports writer and TV producer for ESPN, Turner Sports, ABC Sports and other outlets, argued that the incident exposes a “weakness” in the media — “that merely winning, or even just being good, is not enough. There has to be more to it, some compelling backstory, for an athlete to break through the media morass and connect with the public.”