Press Stays on 'Balloon Boy' Aftermath After Falsely Reporting He Was on Board

By: Joe Strupp Did news outlets go overboard or taken in by a hoax as the story of a runaway experimental balloon in Colorado reportedly carrying a six-year-old boy unfolded on live television?

As the story continues to develop, newspaper Web sites have taken different tactics in reporting whether or not the boy was actually in the contraption.

The Denver Post linked to a 2007 story it had done on the father, Richard Heene, and his partner that described him as a "weather chaser and amateur scientist." That story described his efforts to launch a rocket into a storm.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported upfront that the family had been on the television show "Wife Swap."

The New York Times, meanwhile, covered the events on its "The Lede" blog.

Its first postings offered no questioning of the reports of the boy inside, with one item stating: "Erik Nilsson, the Larimer County emergency manager, said in an interview that officials might have to shoot the balloon to expedite a landing and prevent the child from getting hypothermia inside the small passenger compartment. He has been flying for more than two hours."

But later, after it landed empty, the blog noted: "Falcon Heene was not found in the balloon, and now officials say there is a possibility that Falcon might be hiding in his Fort Collins neighborhood, in fear of recriminations."

The Times also cited the 2007 Post story and the family's Wife Swap appearances.


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