Media Secret Revealed

A newsroom secret is out.

The Associated Press has an obituary ready for Britney Spears. Unusual? For a 26 year-old star, maybe. For a celebrity? Not at all. This is common practice, one that may surprise the average news consumer.

When I started as a news producer at Detroit’s WDIV-TV, I learned on my first day that the station had an obituary prepared for Rosa Parks and former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. In fact, soon after I started, the station had a half-hour’s worth of programming prepared for the first minutes after word of Young’s death broke.

If there’s one form of celebrity news that creates “buzz” among viewers, listeners, readers and web users, it’s a celebrity death. News outlets don’t want to get “beat” on any story, so they still commit their shrinking resources to this type of preparation.