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Canadian folk fans across the nation mourned singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot this afternoon after news of his death circulated on the internet and onto the sites of Canwest publications. Everyone was shocked. Especially Lightfoot, who heard of his own demise on the radio and spoke about it on CP24 a half hour after receiving the news. “I haven’t gotten that much airplay of my music in weeks,” the singer joked with the news station.

Accusations have already started to fly about how the rumour was started, with some blaming Lightfoot’s friend Ronnie Hawkins for spreading the false information and others pointing to Twitter as the culprit. And as if using the social-networking microsite as a source to prove somebody’s death isn’t bad enough, the original Canwest story is now nowhere to be found. There’s not even any mention of the news organization’s error, let alone an apology for it. What ever happened to honesty, transparency and finding a primary source?

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About the author

Jill Langlois was the Chief Copy Editor for the Spring 2010 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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