Stop the presses. No, I mean it. STOP THE PRESSES!!!
Last week the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a Macy’s ad in their daily that congratulated the Phillies on winning their second consecutive World Series title. There was one problem. The series wasn’t over yet. In fact, the Phillies weren’t even ahead in the series and were busy getting their asses handed to them by the Yankees. (The Angels are totally going to get them next year)
Newspapers and other reporting media have had an issue with premature reporting in the past. Everyone knows about “Dewey defeats Truman”, but here are some lesser known, yet equally erroneous news reporting.
Good news! The Titanic will be arriving shortly
In case you were living in a cave in the late 90’s, there was a ship called the Titanic that sank in 1912 that killed over 1500 people. Called unsinkable by the builder, a large iceberg showed them what’s up by promptly sending the ship to the bottom. It was a great tragedy. And it directly led to that damn Celine Dion song to be played every 3 minutes for the better part of a 2 years. I guess tragedy begets tragedy.
The Christian Science Monitor decided that wasn’t what happened. After all, the ship was unsinkable. They reported that all the passengers had safely been transferred to another ship and that the Titanic was being towed by yet another ship into harbor. No word on how long the reporters for this paper waited at the harbor to interview people when the Titanic arrived.
Your friends and family are alive and well. Psych!!!!
Coal mining is a dangerous business. In January of 2006, an explosion trapped 13 miners in the Sago mine in West Virginia. What at first seemed to be an awful disaster was placated by many media outlets reporting that 12 of the 13 miners survived and were OK. The local church where family members were gathering became jubilant and even the governor of the state came out and exclaimed it to be a miracle.
In an unbelievable emotional punch in the gut, it soon turned out that 12 of the 13 miners died in the blast. People were angry, and rightfully so. The blame for the miscommunication was tossed between the reporting agencies and the officials for the company that owned the mine. Regardless, the agencies should have stopped reporting unconfirmed stories and the officials should have put a stop to the stories as soon as they heard them. Neither did, and forever went down in history as assholes.
He’s dead. No, he’s alive. Maybe he’s just sleeping.
In 1922, Pope Benedict XV fell ill with pneumonia. People knew he didn’t have long to live. Apparently, the editors of a New York newspaper knew even better. They printed a morning edition with the headline “Pope Benedict XV is dead”. The Catholic nation went into mourning. The problem was that he wasn’t dead… yet.
The newspaper realized its error and printed an afternoon edition in which it reported that the Pope essentially pulled a Jesus printing the headline “Pope has miraculous recovery”. The newspaper did get its wish however, as the Pope did actually die the next week. No word on if the headline that day read “The Pope is dead. Really. We fact-checked this time”.
Jet forced to land… with a missile
On September 1, 1983, a Korean Air jet disappeared of radar screens on its way to Seoul from New York. The plane was carrying a U.S. Congressman as well as 268 other passengers and crew. Nobody knew what happened. Good thing the UPI was on the case. They released a press report saying that “a Korean Air Lines jumbo jet flying from New York to Seoul Wednesday with 269 people aboard, including a U.S. Congressman, was forced to land on Sakhalin, a Soviet-occupied island north of Japan. The passengers were reported safe.” Wrong. The plane had mistakenly strayed into Soviet airspace and was shot down. This one is similar to the Sago mine story above, except there were about 200 more families involved. It makes you want to yell at people.
Yeah, well… he was going to say it
November of 1963, afternoon newspapers carried an Associated press report titled “JFK Raps Fault-Finders in Nation”. They even quoted JFK as saying that opponents “confuse rhetoric with reality”. Well, that’s all well and good, but maybe next time wait until the speech is made before printing from your advance copy of the outline.
You see, they did this on November 22. Kennedy never made that speech. He was assassinated on his way to the location where he planned to speak.
So let this be a reminder to make sure you have the story straight before you put it in print. On a sidenote, I would like to officially announce that was voted “Sexiest Man of the Year” in People Magazine. You may now consider my wife the luckiest girl alive.