Gordon Lightfoot very much alive
- February 18, 2010 3:09 PM |
- By Sarah Liss
A Google search query reveals a surfeit of news stories of Lightfoot's demise. (Google)
This afternoon, newsrooms across the country had a real scare when news broke that legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot had passed away. Only problem? Lightfoot isn't dead.
According to Lightfoot's friend and associate Bernie Fiedler, the singer is alive and well and currently in Toronto, where he's gearing up for a string of shows this spring. The folks at CP24 managed to track down the man of the hour, who claimed he heard a radio report alerting listeners to his own death around 2:55 PM. To his great credit, Lightfoot was sanguine about the news. "I haven't heard so much airplay of my music in weeks," he joked in the CP24 interview.
Fiedler claims that the rumour was a massive internet hoax that originated from an Ottawa-based Twitter account. Given the reverence many Canadians have for the great singer-songwriter, it's probably not surprising that R.I.P. Gordon Lightfoot tweets and retweets spread through the social media network like wildfire.
Though many are quick to blame Twitter for the dissemination of this false information, you could argue that the real problem may have something to do with the eagerness of mainstream media outlets to compete with social media networks and be seen as the first to post breaking news stores. As Toronto-based social media ace Justin Stayshyn rightly noted, "Twitter just spread it. Rumour began in the hallowed halls of dead tree MSM [mainstream media] journalism."
I'll admit that I was guilty of passing along the news after I read a tweet from a respected source, one which included a link to a published article (now deleted) by one of Canada's largest newswire outlets. In our CBC newsrooms, we jumped on the story, but hesitated to post a report as news until we received confirmation from a concrete source. (Making matters worse: one of the published stories included quotes from Lightfoot pal Ronnie Hawkins that seemed to confirm the singer-songwriter's death.)
If nothing else of value comes out of this twisted game of broken telephone, let's hope it serves as a reminder of 1) how important it is to confirm details with reputable sources before posting them as fact; and 2) how lucky we are to have a talented Canadian icon like Gordon Lightfoot still with us, alive and kicking and playing shows.
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