Despite his incredible achievement for mankind, he was not a man to linger in the limelight. He had his ‘big day’ in the media and then kept relatively quiet and away from publicity as much as he could. As one scientist put it today “He was not one to be seen on Dancing with the Stars”. What wonderful irony.
So it was sad to see that two major news organisations managed to mess up their tributes to him when announcing his death. NBC called him Neil Young (a cue for multiple ‘Harvest Moon’ references from online commentators), and the Telegraph described him in a tweet and in their Science Obituary as ‘The first American woman in space’.
Genuine mistakes no doubt, but a sad lack of respect nonetheless for someone who was a ‘proper’ hero in the eyes of the world.
These mistakes took place in the same week that the Sun newspaper decided it was ‘in the public interest’ to publish pictures of Prince Harry ‘relaxing’ in his hotel suite in Las Vegas. I’ve cringed at all the countless debates on radio and television about why they took the decision to publish – because the answer is obvious – to sell newspapers.
Supporters of the Sun and former tabloid editors have bleated that the pictures have been available on the Internet for days and so there is no reason why the Sun shouldn’t go ahead and print. Blah blah...
And therein we find the real issue – the Internet will eventually be the death of printed newspapers. Publishing houses all know this of course and are all searching for ways to make people pay for news – something that will always be an uphill struggle when the likes of Twitter, YouTube and other Social Networking tools share news in almost real time.
And when news organisations do use the Internet – they manage to screw it up by showing little respect to genuine heroes like Neil Armstrong. Lord Justice Leveson must be smiling over his cornflakes this morning.