Bill Young is not dead, contrary to reports

Tampa Bay Times | St. Petersblog | Politico | WTVT

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young is "gravely ill," his family said in a statement Thursday. But by that time, several outlets had already reported him dead.

Peter Schorsch appears to be the first person to have reported that Young died. The St. Petersburg, Fla., blogger writes he had the news confirmed by "two members, albeit distant, of the Young family who said they had been contacted with news of Young’s death. When I asked why they were telling me, they said it was because of my 'fair coverage.'"

Fox News soon reported Young's death. Dylan Byers caught the video.

Fox apologized for the false report not long afterward, prompting corrections from both Byers and New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, both of whom wondered on Twitter why it was leaving the error hanging out there.

Luke Russert also tweeted the news, then corrected it.

Others apologized for retweeting false reports of Young's death.

While not exempting Fox News from blame, Tampa Fox station WTVT ran a report headlined "How the Twitterverse got it wrong about Rep. Bill Young."

Somewhat amazingly, this wasn't the first time false reports had spread of Young's death. In 2011, he told the Tampa Tribune he was not dead. “That was strange,” his chief of staff told National Journal.

Friday morning, Schorsch was still atoning on Twitter.

Related: In 2012, Craig Silverman wrote about a series of mistakes that led to news outlets prematurely reporting Joe Paterno's death. CBS Sports and The Huffington Post were slow to credit Onward State, the source of the initial false report, but CBS Sports was quick to name it after the report proved false. "Glory is overvalued by journalists, and it causes us to make terrible mistakes," Silverman wrote.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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