As a gospel music fan, I have been watching all evening as thousands of Tweets have been sent on the reported passing today of Gospel Music Legend Bishop Walter Hawkins.
I first learned of the breaking story because “Walter Hawkins” was a trending topic, an indication on Twitter of how many tweets are being sent on an issue.
Moments ago (10 p.m. Central Time), the Web site of his church, Love Center Fellowship, updated with a simple message “We Are Celebrating the Homegoing of Bishop Walter L. Hawkins May 11, 1949- July 11, 2010″
This is reminiscent of those reports of Michael Jackson’s death in June 2009 that were taken as truth hours before our mainstream, trusted news outlets reported the death.
As I mentioned in a post last year, I think we have to exercise EXTREME caution when believing stories like this before they are confirmed.
At least we know the Tweets are not rumor, but fact now that the Love Center Ministries has confirmed it.
Mainstream Media Slow Again?
But, as of 10 p.m. Central Time this evening, there was still a paucity of reporting on the major news Web sites about this. Just checked those in the Oakland area, which are still not carrying this story.
A tribute video to Bishop Hawkins has already gone up on YouTube.
His Wikipedia page was updated several hours ago. The Wikipedia page notes that Gospel legend Shirley Caesar was the one who announced this news on her Facebook page about four hours ago.
And lots of Friends have posted items on Walter Hawkins’ Facebook fan page.
I guess nowadays, that means it’s true?
I believe Shirley Caesar is one we can trust.
Perhaps this lack of “official” information has more to do with it being a Sunday night or that Gospel music is still a niche genre with which those in mainstream American culture are less familiar?
I know we can’t compare Bishop Hawkins to Michael Jackson. But, the diffusion of information on this breaking story is reminiscent of what happened last summer.