The report of my death is an exaggeration

3 02 2009

Another gem on Wikipedia. This is about when media reported someone’s death too soon, when the subject was still alive. We all know about the rumours about Steve Jobs that have circulated recently or about Paul McCartney allegedly substituted by a lookalike but there are a lot more.
For instance:
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s death was erroneously announced in the Australian media in 1993 after a London-based Sky News employee saw an internal rehearsal for her future death (one of many conducted by the UK media over the years). Thinking it was for real, he phoned his mother in Australia with the ‘news’, who passed it on to the media.[138] The time zone difference may have made it difficult for the Australian media to check the story during UK night-time. The employee was sacked for the mistake, but then won a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal.
or
Ernest Hemingway: after the author and his wife Mary Welsh Hemingway were involved in two African plane crashes in 1954, newspapers reported that both had died. Hemingway survived, but suffered extensive injuries which affected him for the rest of his life. AE Hotchner claimed that Hemingway read a scrap book of his obituaries every morning with a glass of champagne after the incident.
But I think the following deserves a prize:
Multiple premature obituaries came to light on 16 April 2003, when it was discovered that pre-written draft memorials to several world figures were available on the development area of the CNN website without requiring a password (and may have been accessible for some time before).[187] The pages included tributes to Fidel Castro, Dick Cheney, Nelson Mandela, Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Pope John Paul II, and Ronald Reagan.

Some of these obituaries contained fragments taken from others, particularly from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s obituary, which had apparently been used as a template. Dick Cheney for example was described as the ‘UK’s favorite grandmother’, the site noted the Pope’s ‘love of racing’, and described Castro as ‘lifeguard, athlete, movie star’ (a reference to Ronald Reagan).

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