Sunday, September 2, 2012


“Television news didn't seem to fully recognize the importance of the first human to walk on the moon on the weekend he died,” reports David Bauder of Associated Press (Aug. 26).

One reason: Armstrong died in Cincinnati on a Saturday. Not just any Saturday, when news organizations have a skeletal staff, but a late August weekend. It's not a stretch to think inexperience on duty might have played a role in NBC News' embarrassing gaffe: a website headline that read: "Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on the moon, dies at age 82." NBC called it a staffer error and said the mistake was taken down after seven minutes, according to Bauder.

“His death came as somewhat of a surprise, too. Everyone dies, of course, and most news organizations have prepared material on hand to mark the passing of famous people. In many cases, though, there is advance word that someone is very ill, giving the media a chance to prepare and plan.”

Armstrong's determined effort to live a quiet, private life after his astronaut days also left TV at a disadvantage, says Bauder.

There was relatively little tape on hand to roll from interviews reminiscing about his experiences, reunions with old astronauts or public appearances. No Armstrong chats with David Letterman. No appearances in music videos. There was the moon walk, and not much else.

“His death was like his life: strangely muted given the magnitude of his achievements,” Bauder writes.

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