Richard Jewell, the man unjustly accused of planting bombs at the 1996 Olympics, has passed away at age 44. As a security guard Jewell actually discovered a pipe bomb and helped evacuate Centennial Olympic Park before becoming the focus of wild speculation.
The best thing written about Jewell was Marie Brenner's 1997 Vanity Fair profile (PDF), a brilliant piece of journalism assigned to students when I was studying at Medill. But Jewell's name doesn't usually evoke memories of good journalism. It evokes the opposite: Nasty, herd-chasing yellow journalism that can destroy lives and reputations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which put the mark of Cain on Jewell, can walk away from Jewell's case now having never settled with him. As for the FBI, which marked him as a "person of interest"… I can't name any mistakes they've made since then, can you?