The race to report started at 8:45 p.m. Saturday.
The Penn State student news website Onward State posted an item saying legendary former football coach Joe Paterno had died.
Within minutes, the misinformation pinged from one major news outlet to another, like a metal ball in a pinball machine.
CBSSports.com seized on the Onward State report, without directly attributing it to the site. The Guardian and The Star-Ledger, in turn, based their accounts on CBSSports.
The influential Twitter feed, @breakingnews - which boasts more than 3.5 million followers - linked to the CBS story. The news was tweeted and re-tweeted, spawning several trending topics on Twitter.
Over at Wikipedia, someone altered the entry on Paterno, adding his date of death as "January 21, 2012."
All within 15 minutes, before a Paterno family spokesman, and then Paterno's sons, set the record straight.
"Not true. Not true. Not true," the spokesman, Dan McGinn, told CNN after getting off the phone with the family.
Paterno's son, Scott, took to Twitter to correct the misinformation.
"CBS report is wrong – Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time," he tweeted.
The incident highlighted the crucial clash in today's hyper-competitive news environment: getting it fast versus getting it right.FULL STORY