Special reports of Betty White’s death comes just as 2021 draws to a close

Just as 2021 was coming to an end and newsrooms were likely settling in for a hopefully quiet(er) New Year’s Eve came the news that one of America’s most iconic entertainers, Betty White, had died.

White’s death Dec. 31, 2021, was confirmed by her agent and comes just a few weeks shy of what would have been her 100th birthday — Jan. 17, 2022.

Fox’s cable channel returned from a break with its signature “alert” signature at about 2:40 p.m. eastern time with the news.

CNN likewise returned from a break with its breaking news stinger to announce the death but at 2:51 p.m. eastern.

MSNBC, which was airing an extended retrospective of civil rights news of 2021 toward the end of the 2 p.m. eastern hour, broke the news shortly after 3 p.m. eastern.

NBC News, in turn, interrupted network air in select markets shortly after 3 p.m. eastern as well. NBC News Now also carried coverage.

In select markets, CBS was covering the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl and did not, at least in the Chicago market, cut in. It did offer coverage on its streaming network, CBSN, however.

ABC News interrupted programming in select markets and carried a special report on its streaming offering, ABC News Live as well.

Most of the networks were able to air full packages on White’s life and career thanks to a practice that involves having these types of stories about famous people, particularly those who are an advanced age or in ill health, ready to go. These are sometimes updated a bit at the last minute, either by editing the package or in the anchor intro or outro.

The news will also no doubtably be covered more on this evening’s network newscasts and in the coming days.

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