To Be First or to Be Accurate? The Social Media Catastrophe Following the Death of Kobe Bryant

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans

When the death of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant broke the news, TMZ was the first to report it. Despite having only the information that he was involved in a helicopter crash on Saturday in Calabasas, TMZ is now receiving backlash for their reporting. LA County Sheriff tore into the news outlet saying that Bryant’s family should have been informed with a full police report before TMZ had published anything. TMZ had been so early to report it that social media had even questioned its accuracy. As news of the helicopter crash started to catch wind, more and more social media rumors began to spread. These rumors caused much inaccuracy in other news outlet’s reports as well as celebrities and political figures, such as President Donald Trump, to send their condolences out into the cyber world despite being false. ABC News had falsely reported that all of Bryant’s children “were believed to be” killed in the accident, while the LA Times has send out on their social media that they have heard the news regarding Bryant, but are waiting for actual confirmation and police reports in order to report the news accurately.

The events following the TMZ report were nothing short of an absolute mess. News organizations today are more concerned with being the first to break a story rather than getting all of the facts and waiting to publish an accurate report. There is even the lack of empathy from outlets like TMZ who didn’t have the decency to wait until the families of the departed had been notified. Instead, the people closest to Bryant had to find out about his death like the rest of us, through social media. Is this type of reporting something that we should just expect with the evolution of how quick media is, or should there be an unwritten rule to wait until the families of those killed are made aware before you start reporting? Nonetheless, today many journalists would rather be first than be accurate.

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