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This tragic Hugh Hefner article is why pre-writing obituaries is a bad idea. XX DO NOT PUBLISH.

This tragic Hugh Hefner article is why pre-writing obituaries is a bad idea. XX DO NOT PUBLISH.


If you've ever wondered how news websites get obituaries up so damn fast, here's an insider secret: the stories are often pre-written. When a beloved celebrity that a website's audience cares about is elderly or ill, a reporter might decide to write their obituary in advance, leaving blanks for information that won't be available until the death actually happens. It's definitely a time-saving practice, helping outlets be among the first to break a story. However, as one Hollywood Reporter writer just proved, it's also a risky one.

Thursday night, shortly after news of​​​​​​ Hugh Hefner's death broke, a Twitter user named Lauren Ashley Smith happened upon The Hollywood Reporter's obituary for the Playboy founder–and she immediately noticed a few errors. "Hugh Hefner is gone and so is the job of the person who did this," Smith tweeted alongside two screenshots of the article.

As seen in the images, someone at THR seems to have accidentally hit "publish" before making the necessary changes. For example:

  • The headline begins with "ADVANCE OBIT:" and ends with "XX DO NOT PUBLISH."
  • The publish date is listed as "12/31/1969."
  • Hefner's age of death is reported as "XX."
  • The details of his death read as follows: "Hefner died WHEN and WHERE of WHAT, according to WHOM."

Within an hour after Smith posted her now-viral tweet, THR had updated its article by cleaning up the headline and adding in information about Hefner's death into the story. Phew.

But that doesn't matter, because the pre-written version will still live forever on the internet. And the people of Twitter sure have jokes.

We're sending our best wishes to the person WHOM is responsible for this error.

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