Earlier today, CTV Ottawa reported the death of cancer-stricken former hockey coach Pat Burns. It was no doubt a sad story that touched us all. Burns has dedicated his life to hockey, was a fantastic coach, and was the centre of a large Internet campaign to have him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame when he was still alive.
Except somebody at the CTV Ottawa bureau failed to check their facts. Pat Burns is still alive, and "shocked to learn that he's dead," according to a member of the Burns family speaking to Bob MacKenzie. "Tell I'm alive--set them straight," Pat says to Bob.
How did this all play out? Twitter, of course. As soon as CTV Ottawa posted their since-removed message, it was taken up by high-profile bloggers, as well as radio stations such as the FAN 590 in Toronto and apparently the TEAM 1040 in Vancouver. The news caught on like a bug, and Pat Burns was dead before anybody with access decided it was a good idea to fact-check.
So CTV Ottawa apologized for the mistake, those morbid, morbid people at the station.
Burns now joins Gordon Lightfoot and Jeff Goldblum as celebrities killed off by Twitter. The 58-year old Burns is still sick, still not in the Hall of Fame, but still alive at home.