On two consecutive nights, two celebrity deaths were reported. One was unfortunately accurate, the other not so. Any time a famous person passes, it is good for online business as numerous clicks are collected on media sites that report on these events, usually far exceeding their normal daily output.
In this case it was Cuban actress Elizabeth Pena, 55, who died this week. Her best known roles were in “Jacob’s Ladder” and “La Bomba.” But her body of work at closer inspection provided many gems. Ironically her death placed her where her acting career rarely did, in the spotlight.
The other case was a report that Thalia, Mexican born singer had died from an accident a day after Pena’ death. The actress who crossed over to minimal success here and could count her marriage to Tommy Mottola as the sole highlight. However, Thalia is extremely popular in the Latin market so when it was reported on a facebook post that she died, many clicked away to learn more. It was soon reported as a hoax. Thalia’s mother passed four year’s ago so it appeared to be in poor taste. Here is the post that was repeated throughout.
“At about 11 a.m. ET on Friday (October 17, 2014), our beloved singer Thalía passed away. Thalía was born on August 26, 1971 in Mexico City. She will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.”
The problem was that whether or not it was correct, it got ton’s of traffic. The stress it caused family and friends, as well as fans could be measured by the numbers and money generated. The net is still very much a wild west territory. One can pull items off but it does little to lessen the original effect.
The responsible party who started it was probably reprimanded, but what about the rest who should know better. In trying to get the news out quick to keep in step with the rest, the information was not collectively confirmed.
Its important to remember that death for news sake is never worth the clicks it generates if the reputaton of journalism is stained. Something to think about when the next celebrity hoax is spread.