The Death of Alan Abel

On January 2, 1980 the New York Times announced the death of Alan Abel on its obituary page. It provided a flattering account of his career. The obituary read, in part:

Alan Abel, a writer, musician and film producer who specialized in satire and lampoons, died of a heart attack yesterday at Sundance, a ski resort near Orem, Utah, while investigating a location for a new film. He was 50 years old and lived in Manhattan and Westport, Conn.

Mr. Abel, a graduate of Ohio State University with majors in music and speech, made a point in his work of challenging the obvious and uttering the outrageous. He gained national recognition several years ago when he mounted a campaign for animal decency, demanding that horses and dogs, for example, be fitted with underwear.

Unfortunately for the Times, Abel was not dead. The Times learned this when Abel held a press conference the next day in which he revealed that the news of his death was a hoax engineered by himself and a team of twelve accomplices. It is reported that the editor of the Times was so mad at the deception, that he vowed to never print Abel's name again. This was a vow the editor was unable to keep.

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New York Times didn't do its job of checking up on which that Alan Abel had died. It's too easy for media outlets to be first with the story without checking the facts only to have egg on their faces to find out it was false.
Posted by Stephen A. Fletcher  in  Chesterton, IN  on  Mon Oct 12, 2015  at  10:32 PM