Both Deadspin Reporters Who Exposed the Manti Te’o Football Love Hoax are Students

Student Who Helped Deadspin Break Te’o Hoax Story Remembers Thinking ‘Wow, This is Absolutely Nuts’

Notre Dame Student Paper Apologizes, Examines ‘What Went Wrong’ with Manti Te’o Girlfriend Hoax Coverage

Both Deadspin reporters who pieced together the big story of the moment— the non-existence of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend– are students.

Timothy Burke is a Ph.D. candidate in communications at the University of South Florida.  (OK, yes, just technically still a student.)  And Jack Dickey is a straight-up senior at Columbia University, on winter break when he began the investigation.

Along with Deadspin editor Tommy Craggs, the pair transformed a tip last Friday into an enormous scoop.  Their hoax de Te’o exclusive has truly shocked the sports world and general public, caught the media establishment flat-footed and in a few cases red-faced, and cemented the term “catfish” into the modern lexicon.




In an interview with Boston Magazine, Dickey said the story’s turnaround time was uber-quick, especially given how high-profile, wide-ranging, and bizarre it was: “You wanna hear something crazy? We got the tip [last] Friday afternoon. It’s in our group chat logs. ‘4:35 PM Jack D. That Te’o tip is fascinating. Anyone got dibs?’ So Tommy Craggs and Burke helped me research on Friday afternoon, and then Tim and I spent all weekend, and all of Monday and most of Tuesday, looking into the mystery of this story. [Writers] Dom Cosentino and Tom Ley made a bunch of calls then too. Then Craggs and [managing editor] Tom Scocca edited the thing on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and then we were basically ready to go. I don’t know if anyone besides Deadspin could have turned it around like that.”


In a separate interview with Poynter’s Mallary Tenore, Burke said the content already published by other media about the love story provided ammunition for Deadspin’s own reporting: “You can learn a lot about what happened by looking at the contradictions between other journalists’ stories. That was what really tipped us off, after all, that something was weird here. Major news organizations disagreed on the date of a person’s death by up to four days.”

3 Responses to “Both Deadspin Reporters Who Exposed the Manti Te’o Football Love Hoax are Students”
  1. hayne2jr says:

    Reblogged this on Journ Student Jess and commented:
    I learned of this case last week, kudos to the students who did some muck-raking of their own and found o,the truth in this messy situation.

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