The Dangers of Pre-Written Obituaries

Newspapers and other news outlets have files of pre-written obituaries for world leaders and other celebrities, particularly if they are elderly. If a prominent person dies, they want to be ready for the announcement, instead of having to research and write about someone who might just die on a holiday weekend. That was made apparent Friday night when CNN broke the news that Fidel Castro had died. They had an obituary ready, but were in such a rush to post the news that they neglected to give it a final proofread, and a usage note was left in.

This, of course, was a pre-written obituary, probably penned by the author long ago. After all, Castro had been in failing health for years, and there had been other announcements of Castro’s death that had turned out to be untrue.

And it’s a long tradition of journalism that newspapers and other media outlets pre-write and hold hundreds of obituaries for celebrities and world leaders that have not yet died. But that doesn’t mean Twitter users weren’t pointing out the mistakes of CNN (and others).

Some news outlets have hundreds of pre-written obituaries, which leads to strange situations like the obituary writer dying before the person the obituary was for. Read more about it at The Daily Dot. By the way, the first President Bush is doing fine at age 92. 

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