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Fla. Rumors Kill Swayze

Washington Post staff writer Lauren Wiseman on the premature burial of actor Patrick Swayze by an overeager radio station and an army of Twitters, or are they just Twits?:

Wiseman writes:

It seems nobody is safe in the blogosphere. A Jacksonville, Fla., radio station announced early yesterday morning the death of actor Patrick Swayze, who is fighting pancreatic cancer.

The station's actions prompted massive Twittering of the false statement, spreading widespread rumors and prompting Swayze's publicist to issue a statement
clarifying that the actor is "enjoying life and responding to treatment for pancreatic cancer."

Doesn't anybody check their facts anymore before rattling off information, especially about whether a public figure has died? With Twitter and Facebook and the constant need to update information every few minutes for fear of being behind the times, false stories seem more likely than ever.

A quick initial phone call to the publicist would have prevented this whole debacle.

By Adam Bernstein |  May 20, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
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People are less likely to believe a publicist than they are a blogger, especially since so many celebrities use their publicists to spread obvious lies. In those cases, contradicting a publicist gives them the same kind of thrill that being a conspiracy theorist does to others - they know The Truth, and no suit is going to stop them from spreading it.

Other people either don't know publicists exist or don't think you can call them up and ask. This is especially true of bloggers, who might not realize the audience they have.

Posted by: Blurgle | May 20, 2009 4:38 PM

It happened in *Jacksonville* for crissakes...not exactly the home of Mensa.

Posted by: snoshoo93 | May 20, 2009 5:12 PM

This report alarmed me at the time and I went hunting for confirmation, but found none.
In my opinion, this kind of report is particularly unconsciousable, just as some of the screaming headlines on the tabloids predict disaster.
It is especially dispiriting, I'm sure, to someone battling such a vicious disease.
Patrick Swayze has inspired a number of patients suffering from the same type of cancer because he has shown such strength of purpose in the face of what could have been a very hard diagnosis and treatment.
Such an unsourced report not only strikes out at Mr. Swayze, but also those who share his struggle.
It's a good example of what will happen if we lose our main-stream media to this economic crisis.
Who will publish the truth, if we have no newspapers of record?

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | May 22, 2009 10:56 AM

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