Did TV Run With the Lidle Identification Too Early?

By RJI on October 23, 2006 0 Comments

by CCJ Staff, An exchange between CCJ Executive Director Jeffrey Dvorkin and concerned citizen William Stuart

-----Original Message-----From: William Stuart

Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:01 PM

Subject: Waiting for notification

I am not a journalist. I came across your website, because I am trying tofind information on waiting for official family notification beforereporting the name of someone who has died.Specifically, I am concerned with the wide reporting of Corey Lidle's deathwhile his father, wife and child were not notified. The[y] even reported thefact that the family had not been notified.Is this considered ethical behavior now or does your organization considerthis unethical?See this article I found on espn.com:

Lidle's dad learned of plane crash on television By Wright ThompsonESPN.com

William Stuart CCJ Executive Director Jeffrey Dvorkin's response: Dear Mr. Stuart, We have two conflicting issues here: first, the traditional obligation towait to get confirmation of a death from the authorities. Normally, policeor other groups don't release the names until the next of kin have beennotified. In the Lidle case, this evidently was not done.

In the hothouse of this story (post 9/11, plane crash in a Manhattanbuilding, plus the usual the NY media frenzy) getting the story first,without regard to the niceties of waiting for the authorities, meant thatnews organizations were going to go all out. My guess is that news directors (and the journalists who work for them) were going all out to get this one first and fast. If newsrooms are going to do a post-mortem on their coverage (do newsrooms still do that?), they should ask themselves if anyone called the FAA to confirm who was on the plane.

Who first reported that Lidle was the pilot? How did the information thatLidle was the pilot get released? Did news organizations violate their ownpolicies by not determining whether the next-of-kin had been notified? Didthe FAA err in not notifying the family first?

Mr. Stuart raises some important issues and it seems to me there is more toreport on this story.


What do you think? Was information indicating the plane was Lidle's released too soon? Did TV stations and networks run with Lidle's identification sooner than they needed to? Or do you believe Lidle's standing as a public figure trumped the need for following next-of-kin notification protocols in this case? Let us know below.