Origins: It should come as no surprise to those who follow the media that most news outlets prepare obituaries for many prominent political and entertainment figures (especially those advanced in years or in poor health) well before their deaths. The passing of a famous personage is always big news, and nobody wants to get scooped by losing time
Of course, given our squeamishness about confronting the subject of death, no news outlet likes to advertise the fact that they prepare death notices in advance. This isn't usually an issue, save for the rare occasions when a newspaper or
Unfortunately, CNN was caught a bit red-faced on
The templates, which were to be used when the person died, had been on a development site meant for internal review. But the public briefly had access to them after the password protection was disabled.
CNN was investigating the cause of the error, which was discovered and fixed Wednesday. CNN spokeswoman Edna Johnson said technicians were trying to determine how long the mock-ups had been exposed through the development site, which was not directly accessible from the main CNN.com news site.
Although the templates were no longer accessible to the public, the search engine Google still had a reference Thursday to Reagan's, titled "Ronald Reagan Remembered."
Associated Press.   "CNN Laments Posted Obits."     Los Angeles Times.   18 April 2003.     Associated Press.   "CNN Faults Human Error for Posting of Mock-Up Obituaries on Web Site."     Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.   18 April 2003.