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Mon Oct 2 3:22 pm  #1


Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

The story is a Heartbreaker in more ways than one.Tom Petty, the veteran rocker who had a string of hits over several decades and was one of the Traveling Wilburys, was rushed to hospital Sunday night after suffering an apparent heart attack. He couldn't be saved and died on Monday. He was only 66. 

Tom Petty, legendary rocker, is dead at 66   
 

 

Mon Oct 2 5:22 pm  #2


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

Death reported prematurely. 

 

Mon Oct 2 7:24 pm  #3


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

I hope the initial reports are wrong, although I don’t hold out a lot of hope. It’s rare that both CBS and Variety get it so wrong. But in the meantime, it was everywhere. Both RB and AM 640 locally did tributes to the “late” artist. We’ll know soon enough if that “late” was too early.  
 
It’s not the first instance of premature celebrity deaths making it to air.
 
Those who aren’t in the business may not be aware that the big networks and wire services prepare obits for famous people well ahead of time. When they pass away, they pull out the filed stuff, add what’s called a “new top” with the details of where and when, and have all the background of the person’s life ready to go, allowing them to quickly get the info out.

But sometimes, that can backfire.
 
It did in 1998, when the Associated Press accidentally published a pre-obit for comedian Bob Hope. The story reached the U.S. House of Representatives, where it was reported on the floor as the “death of a great American” and was picked up by everyone.
 
Hope was home at the time eating breakfast, wondering what they were talking about. He actually lived for five more years.
 
Then there was the supposed death of Gordon Lightfoot back in 2010. It was apparently an Internet-created hoax, but a number of stations, especially in Canada, went with it.
 
But the most famous “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” story had to be the one that happened before an international audience on March 30, 1981, when John Hinckley Jr. shot then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
 
In the confusion that’s always a part of breaking news, every TV network reported the death of press secretary James Brady, who had been shot in the head. When the story was retracted (Brady lived for many more years and became an outspoken advocate for gun control) ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds – who was a close friend of Brady’s – went nuts on air, screaming at his own people, “Let's get it nailed down...somebody...let's find out! Let's get it straight so we can report this thing accurately!”
 
I was working in a Toronto radio newsroom that day and I remember watching that as it took place.
 
It doesn’t happen often. But when it does, it’s a mess. 

     Thread Starter
 

Mon Oct 2 7:34 pm  #4


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

We were at home watching ABC News covering Ronald Reagan's shooting.  The late Frank Reynolds was on, and I remember him being quite pissed off about not getting the story right.  I remember him being angry on air, but perhaps I'm embellishing my memory of the telecast a bit.  Oddly enough, that day included my earliest memory of Peter Jennings - for some reason I remember him being in Frankfurt that day)


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

Mon Oct 2 7:34 pm  #5


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

RadioActive wrote:

In the confusion that’s always a part of breaking news, every TV network reported the death of press secretary James Brady, who had been shot in the head. When the story was retracted (Brady lived for many more years and became an outspoken advocate for gun control) ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds – who was a close friend of Brady’s – went nuts on air, screaming at his own people, “Let's get it nailed down...somebody...let's find out! Let's get it straight so we can report this thing accurately!”

Er, I really should read more carefully before I post.  So Frank did get pissy.


 


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

Mon Oct 2 8:04 pm  #6


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

Here he is going nuts even before the Brady stuff. I love it when he hits himself in the head. 


 

     Thread Starter
 

Mon Oct 2 8:31 pm  #8


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

I was sworn to secrecy a long time ago about this, but since the person who told me these stories is long out of there, I guess there’s no harm in relating it now so long as no names are mentioned. It’s the bizarre tale of how City TV prematurely killed the pope – and then almost missed it when the most famous prime minister in Canadian history died.
 
As most here recall, Pope John Paul II was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and was not doing well towards the end of his life. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time. The station had just started its website around then and had, in my friend’s words, “the world’s worst Internet publishing engine known to man.” It allowed them to send out breaking news email bulletins for whoever signed up and thousands of people did.
 
As luck would have it, there was some kind of urgent story that day, and they dutifully pushed out the breaking news email. But with the pope so sick, it was decided they would type up an early flash, essentially saying John Paul II had died, stick it in the engine, but NOT hit “publish.” Unfortunately, the engine was still sending out the old news about whatever had happened.
 
When they pasted in the unpublished bulletin about the pope’s death, for some reason the software took that up and hundreds of people got that instead – even though they never intended for it to go out and no one hit the switch that would make it live.
 
Needless to say other stations began quoting City as saying the pope had passed, apparently not wondering where a small station would have gotten such an exclusive before the networks and the wires. They were red-facedly forced to issue a retraction and they never put anything in there early again.
 
And then there’s the death of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. As my friend tells it, it was about 5:45 PM in the afternoon, and the news line-up had been finalized, with just 15 minutes left before the 6 o’clock show. Everyone was very busy, as they always are before airtime, except one rookie, who was new to the place and didn’t have all that much to do.
 
She happened to glance up at one of the monitors that had the competition on, without sound, and noticed a graphic on CBLT that read, “Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1919-2000.” Nothing had hit the wire at that point, so she casually went up to one of the producers. “The CBC says Pierre Trudeau died,” she told him.
 
“WHAT?” came the response.
 
And with that, you’d have thought a bomb had hit the newsroom, as the library scrambled to pull any stock footage, scripts were hastily re-written, guest experts were sped in, and the thing was smashed into an editing room for a lead story. Remember, they had less than 15 minutes to air and everything they had planned just went out the window.
 
Somehow they got it done and that night, on a wing and a prayer, the story of the death of Canada’s 15th Prime Minister made it to air with no one the wiser about how close they came to not having it at all.
 
I sure hope they gave that rookie a bonus.    

     Thread Starter
 

Tue Oct 3 4:40 am  #9


Re: Tom Petty Gone Too Soon

Okay, he's officially dead now. Sad, but true.