Wikipedia Updater Fired For Tim Russert Story

When Tim Russert passed on, NBC wanted news agencies to hold the story for several hours, in order for Tim’s family to be notified first. NBC was concerned that the family may learn of the death via a news broadcast. Unfortunately, a employee of one news agency updated Russerts profile on Wikipedia. Rumor has it that the employee has been fired for his actions. In the article it states:

The news appeared on Wikipedia 40 minutes before the NBC report, with all of the verbs in Tim’s entry changed from present tense to past. It appeared on the New York Times’s web site 5 minutes before the NBC story. It zipped around Twitter all afternoon.

All that is to be expected. But here’s the scandalous part of the story:

According to the NYT, the person who updated the Wikipedia entry 40 minutes before NBC reported it worked at Internet Broadcasting Services, a company that provides web services to TV stations including NBC affiliates. IBS says a “junior-level employee” changed the Wikipedia entry to reflect Russert’s death because he or she thought it was common knowledge. When NBC discovered the entry–and freaked out about it–someone else at IBS deleted the date of Russert’s death and changed all of the verb tenses back. And then IBS took care of the employee. NYT:

An I.B.S. spokeswoman…added that the company had “taken the necessary measures with the employee and apologized to NBC.” NBC News said it was told the employee was fired.”

Though I do understand why NBC wanted an embargo on the information to protect Tim Russerts family, it would seem that firing the employee was a drastic response. It is unsure how the employee learned of the news or was even aware of the the 2 hour wait period.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.