The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Natasha Richardson's media ghouls get their comeuppance

March 18, 2009 |  1:14 pm

Nearly every day you can find an example of someone rushing a story into the blogosphere that turns out to be, well, not really true, as I noted in a post the other day when the showbiz press was full of reports that Summit Entertainment had hired a new director for one of its "Twilight" sequels, when in fact the company hadn't even finished interviewing possible candidates. Now we have the depressing example of the ghoulish swarm of coverage of Natasha Richardson's horrific skiing accident, which reached its nadir with this post from Time Out NY's theater blog, which prematurely killed off the actress, running the headline: "RIP Natasha Richardson 1963-2009."

I'm not sure what was worse, Time Out being in such a rush to be first that it put up such an offensive, sob-sister post in the first place or that it proceeded to insult everybody with a shameless display of false piety, ending the post by quoting from Shakespeare's "Cymbeline." If the worst thing about the blogosphere is its endless pursuit of the ephemeral, the best thing is surely the ability of readers to instantly offer their reaction to shoddy journalistic scoundrelry. 

Mere minutes after Time Out had its post up, the verdict was in: In terms of cruddy journalism, Time Out was guilty as charged. You can read the comments for yourself here, but it was refreshing to see that readers haven't grown so cynical about the blogosphere that they aren't outraged when it reaches a new nadir. My favorite response, from the aptly named Ghost of Edward Murrow, was a far better example of writing than the original piece. It went as follows: "Time Out's credibility was declared brain dead today. The site suffered a horrific fall when rushing to get the scoop on the personal tragedy of a fine actress and her family, and according to anyone with a clue, will not recover."   

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