Scooped, NBC Gets Wikipedia Updater Fired

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News Posted: Mon, Jun 23 2008 9:04 AM

In the super-fast world of the Internet, if a story breaks, you can
expect the Wikipedia entry for that subject to be updated faster than
you can blink. In the case of Tim Russert's sad death on June 13th, NBC
contacted other networks and media outlets in an attempt to hold back
the news long enough to notify his family vacationing in Italy. Before
they knew it, however, it was already updated on Wikipedia.

On Wikipedia, Mr. Russert’s page was updated at 3:01 p.m. — adding the date of death and turning present-tense verbs into the past tense almost 40 minutes before the NBC announcement. The entry was particularly influential since many journalists had heard of Mr. Russert’s becoming stricken, but did not know the outcome. If some turned to Wikipedia to refresh themselves about Mr. Russert, they found an article that seemed to confirm what many had been hearing.

“We were not prepared to say anything until all the family had heard,” said Allison Gollust, an NBC News spokeswoman. “The last thing we wanted to do was to have the family discover this on the air.” She said NBC had asked the other networks to hold back and they readily agreed.

“Before we reported it, I remember someone saying it’s on Wikipedia,” she said, which had them “flabbergasted.”


Now, according to the NYT, the "updater" has been fired.  However, other reports are that the updater has merely been suspended.  Either way, what do you readers think?  After all, he was undoubtedly "on the clock" when he updated the entry, all other considerations aside.



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Lev_Astov replied on Mon, Jun 23 2008 9:22 AM
Check Wikipedia to see if he's really been fired. He's surely keeping us up to date...

That was a pretty disrespectful thing to do, though, even if it was only 40 minutes before the announcement.

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Hmm.  But did the family know by then?  And even if they didn't, would they check wikipedia randomly?

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I have to doubt the family was checking wikipedia to see about Tim Russert, but it still shouldn't have been updated until the word was out. It's similar to when Chris Benoit's wiki was updated to say he and his family were dead before the bodies were even discovered, how does something like that even happen?

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kid007 replied on Mon, Jun 23 2008 7:07 PM
talk about freedom of speech... Jesus, got fired for breaking the news talk about crying for not being the first one to say it...
ironically is funny...

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I know Wikipedia is the first place I check when I hear someone's died. Still, like Crisis said, I doubt the family did.
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