There's a reason Deadspin's Manti Te'o scoop has more than 3 million views in less than 24 hours.
Updates included, it is 4,166 words in all, and it's easy to read every word. It involves romance, deceit, a well-known university, a star athlete who was a Heisman candidate and played in the national championship, and the inspirational "story" that accompanied Te'o in recent months. And it shows what's possible with Internet research and social media reporting.
Deadspin's Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey sleuthed through Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, tweets, posts, pages, and other online resources, put it all together with national and local media reports, and wrote a masterful story.
It's news too, at least according to Lord Northcliffe's definition, recently cited by the essay Post-Industrial Journalism: "News is something someone somewhere doesn’t want printed."
Burke and Dickey's research led to nuggets like this: "The real beginning of their relationship apparently occurred on Twitter, as an encounter between @MTeo_5 and @lovalovaloveYOU, on Oct. 10, 2011."
There are screenshots, videos, retweets, and numerous Facebook references. Burke and Dickey dug into who is friends with who, what's being said when, and they put all the puzzle pieces together (at least as best they could) to make the compelling case that Te'o's girlfriend was indeed a hoax.
The social media research is complemented with a timeline of events, as the authors link to old stories from ESPN and other prominent news outlets.
Deadspin also added a pair of updates to the lengthy original report, statements from Notre Dame and Te'o himself. You can read it all in full, together, the entire narrative, and make your own judgments.
It's a brilliant piece showing how good old-fashioned journalism principles are still meaningful for scoops in the digital age; there is a wealth of data on the Internet and conclusions to be made for those who spend the time and consult the right sources. It's a new era for journalism and this is what's possible. Kudos to those behind this extraordinary work.