First let me point out I love the LA Times. Working there was a dream come true, literally. I had been obsessed with the fantasy of working there one day and decades after having my first piece published in The Daily Nexus, I got my chance.
I learned a lot there. One of the things Henry Fuhrmann and I talked about a lot regarding digital news was transparency, especially in response to corrections, particularly major ones.
Yesterday there was an LA Times headline that said straight up that a person died. There was no coroner’s report. Their sole source was an Instagram post on the girl’s IG page.
Today the social media personality went to TMZ to say the reports of her death were greatly— she said she had been hacked.
Did the LA Times admit later on Wednesday they had jumped the gun in the neverending quest to jump on Google trends in the vacuous world of celebrity news? No.
Instead they pointed to the vague “social media” as the culprits.
“The death of Lil Tay, a young social media star who went viral for her foulmouthed videos, as well as the death of her older brother, was reported Wednesday on social media by an unnamed family member,” a Times writer wrote as the lede of the updated post yesterday.
But that’s incomplete. The death was also reported Wednesday BY THE LA TIMES. And they should not only acknowledge it, but regret their error.
Today there is are new headlines by my favorite paper. The first uses the Gen-Z phrase of “unalive,” which to my knowledge became the way to say “dead” without triggering YouTube bots from hiding the content BUT I COULD BE WRONG.
But quickly that awkward hed was changed to “Report: Lily Tay is alive…” even though her name isn’t Lily and there wasn’t a report. YR GIRL CALLED TMZ. JUST SAY THE FUCKING WORDS.
And admit you’ve been wrong wrong wrong about all of this from the jump and continue to flounder with these half assed updates.
Do not report on shit without independently verifying it.
Will the LAT publish stories later? Yes. So what? The paper is behind a paywall. This race for clicks is over. You can either have a paywall or you can have clicks.
Or best of all you can have accurate “news” the first time, or Best of All, responsible journalism along the lines of “Rumors and Reports of Lil Tay’s Death Have Not Been Confirmed By Coroner.” Which was the only news yesterday until the teen called Harvey.
If I seem to have a Lil energy on this it is because major news outlets love to shit on TMZ and its scoops. But Harvey hardly makes mistakes like what is still happening at the LAT. In part because this world is his Wheelhouse, whereas it is not the Times’. But also, he confirms his shit.
How he confirms it may be shady to some in that he famously pays sources, but then he double checks that info too.
What has blown my mind about the LAT’s gossip coverage over the decades is they are so quick to publish, linking to the outside media outlets as their sources.
Calls about this type of matter from the LAT will get returned. SO CALL THEM. Just like any other desk. Rarely have I seen original reporting on the Gossip desk and it hurts me. The LAT has just as much opportunity for scoops and exclusives as anyone else.
But they won’t if they continue this sort of sloppy writing, editing, and lack of transparency and ownership of errors.