It illustrates the recklessness of even major internet news outlets and how so much of what gets reported, based on “sources,” is untrue or simply made up.
E! News started the media stampede by reporting that “multiple sources” had confirmed that Beyonce was carrying her second child, even though she was in the middle of a grueling 65-date tour.
Literally thousands of celebrity websites around the world parroted the report without any fact checking, or even applying common sense. Indeed, a search on Google for the phrase “beyonce pregnant with baby no 2,” the headline E! News chose to use, drew 122 million responses.
In contrast the phase “beyonce not pregnant” returned about 58 million responses. Some websites are clearly not fessing up, including E! News.
The story was repeated by sites from People to the HuffingtonPost, until husband Jay-Z personally emailed a New York radio station to deny the story.
His words are destined to become one of most infamous quotes in media history. “It’s not true. The news is worse than blogs.”
What could be more hurtful than reporting a woman is pregnant when she’s not?
This could make an interesting journalism school dissertation. Do they even exist anymore? Because most of the rules of old-school print journalism have gone out the window.
Say what you will, but back in the day when media dinosaurs like The Washington Post or The New York Times, ruled the earth, a story of this much pop culture magnitude would never have seen the light of day without rock-solid confirmation.
And, if a story were printed that turned out to be false, resignations would be in order. But in today’s 24/7 media environment, when tabloids routinely make up news about celebrities, apparently anything goes and there’s no looking back. And, the herd mentality is ferocious.
E! News hasn’t even bothered to take down its fake scoop. It’s still up on its website as one of the top five stories of the week. But a search of the site did not turn up Jay-Z’s denial.
Ironically, the “scoop” wasn’t really exclusive at all. The New York Post made the same specious claim five days earlier, also citing “multiple sources.” In a follow up story, The Post took the E! News report as confirmation of its own reporting, as if two wrongs would make a right.
The Post’s “Page Six” column, helmed by writer Emily Smith encountered its “multiple sources” at an after-party following the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fashion Gala. A copy editor, at least, saved Smith’s ass, by leaving it an open question, writing “Baby No. 2?” for the headline, instead of going with Smith’s “confirmation” as fact.
The reporting turned really shoddy when a tweet by Russell Simmons was cited by The Post and E! News, as confirmation that Beyonce was pregnant. Simmons, however, was clearly reacting to the E! News report and gave no indication he had any insider information.
E! News looked even more ridiculous with follow-up reports about Beyonce’s courage for continuing the tour with child, and a retrospective of her first pregnancy.
So far, though, it looks as though neither media outlet has followed up their reports with Jay-Z’s denial. Double shame on The Post, since the story is local.
What’s really laughable is an E! News report, poking fun at “rumormongers,” last September when the Beyonce second baby rumors first surfaced on other websites. Jay-Z told the site in another E! News “exclusive” that his wife wouldn’t be having a baby anytime in the next nine months. That would seem to cover through May.
“No,” Jay said. “Not in one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight or nine months.”
“Hear that, rumormongers? Definitely no baby on board for Hov and Bey.” the site reported. Apparently one rumormonger didn’t get the message… E! News.
So far neither Page Six editor Smith nor E! News spokeswoman Sarah Goldstein have responded to a request for comment.