Dan Canter playing against Pele in a Cosmos media game in 1984.
By Michael Lewis
People enjoy eating sausages, but probably don’t know or don’t want to know how they are made.
In some cases, that goes for stories, whether it is in print or in cyberspace.
Readers don’t want to know how a reporter/writer researches or puts together a story. The only thing that matters that it is there. But in this instance, I figure I would relate how careful this reporter was about reporting the passing of Dan Canter.
I have never been one to print rumors or just anything off any social pages of the internet — I am not into this “fake news” — but this seems to have gotten some momentum.
Over two days, at least three respected members of the soccer community and his friend had communicated to the rest of the world that former U.S. international defender Dan Canter had passed away.
They were Jerry Moyer (Penn State), Ferdinando de Matthaeis (Cosmos) and Ray Hudson (Fort Lauderdale Strikers). I have known all three gentlemen and I know they would not spread rumors around, especially something as drastic as a teammate’s death.
Still, I needed more.
Being an “old-school journalist” who has tried to avoid “fake news” for decades, I needed to find out more.
Let’s see, I googled his name and various incarnations. Found nothing.
Looked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a story or obituary. Found nothing.
Checked out his Wikipedia page and Dan Canter was referred to in the present tense in the first sentence, meaning that he was supposedly still alive.
Emailed the Penn State University alumni organization and it had not heard of anything.
Emailed the PSU athletics department and received a similar respond.
Looked under rocks. Found nothing.
Went back to those three gentlemen and told them of my predicament. While I was not disputing their information, I could not post anything about it.
Finally, Moyer sent me a DM Friday that had a link to Dan obituary on the Nittany Lions’ website — two days after it was on social media.
I posted it.
It’s funny. I was fighting two instincts. As a veteran journalist, I have what I can Spidey-journalistic sense that tells me that something is a story. It was red alert in my mind.
On the other, I have another instinct – don’t print or post a story unless you had verification or that it was true.
Yes, I was two days “late,” but I was glad I waited.
I would do it again.
The last thing I would want to do is put out fake news.
I have known those three men. I spoke to Jerry for a major piece I did about Walt Bahr when he passed away in 2018. I have known Fernando for seemingly, well, forever. Ditto for Hudson.
I give de Matthaeis a lot of credit. He took off his Facebook post until it became official.
So, who was right and who was wrong?
In this case, no one was wrong.
These three men lost a dear friend and former teammate and I certainly can understand why they would want to let the rest of the world know the news and how they felt.
Me? I was just doing my job as a journalist.