This study focuses on how sportswriters and other writers engaged in news paradigm repair via the explanations they provided for the failure to catch the Manti Te’o hoax in January 2013. The Te’o story is a particularly provocative context in which to examine such paradigm repair, because the transgression did not lie with a single journalist or news organization but with an entire profession failing to get the story. Reporters, columnists, and bloggers all engaged in repair, although the repair tended to appear most frequently in traditional media and run in nonsport sections. Writers rarely engaged in self-reflexivity, instead assigning blame to others, although they did suggest possible repairs. Nearly all writers pointed to news routines to explain how they had been duped, with particular attention to fact-checking and sources.
The authors are with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.