How Soon is Too Soon?

Is your competitive spirit so fired up that you can’t wait to get it right? How many news outlets and friends on social media were reporting Tom Petty was dead, when in reality, he was on his deathbed and not actually dead?

There was a glimpse of hope when they all walked it back. But why not just say he’s suffered cardiac arrest (or for us broadcasters, he had a heart attack) and he’s in the hospital? But there were several, including Rolling Stone Magazine who was quickly called out by the singer’s daughter for their premature reporting.

I remember years ago, I was working at a major news station in Los Angeles. There were devastating fires up in Big Bear and we were trying to figure out if it was arson or somehow naturally caused. We got a phone call from some random saying they saw someone toss out something from their car and the hillside light up. But one of my bosses wouldn’t allow me to write it up. I was a newbie, and didn’t understand. In fact, it’s still stuck with me to this point, because it made such a huge impression on me. Yesterday one of my friends was saying the LAPD wouldn’t confirm the story so she wasn’t going with it on the network she works for. It was a conservative move, but she was totally right not to go with the story, right?

In the meantime everyone was already posting about Petty’s death on social media. It wasn’t until almost the end of the day for those on the East Coast, to find out, unfortunately, that the story ended up true in the end.