Manti Te'o Hoax

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek

January 18, 2013

It’s the most bizarre off-field sports story since the Tiger Woods scandal of 2009. By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the details of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who’s harrowing story about losing his girlfriend to leukemia mid-season turned out to be a hoax. Whether or not Te’o was involved in the hoax, and how the story could affect his NFL draft status, remains to be determined. However, what’s certain is that Te’os brand value to marketers is dead. Part of what makes someone a good product endorser is their trustworthiness and likability. Te’os attributes in both categories just plummeted.

Another big question that comes from the scandal is the credibility of blogs as a real news source. Before putting “blogs,” generally, on the same pedestal as news networks, it’s important to consider the website. The Te’o story was broken by the website Deadspin, which while oftentimes criticized for its subject matter, investigated this piece exhaustively. Unfortunately, not all blogs follow the same journalistic procedures. While this is a big victory for Deadspin, each individual blog has to prove its own legitimacy.

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