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Stateside: Disappearing Croc Doc Google Mystery

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

Disappearing Croc Doc Google Mystery

It’s Labor Day holiday here today, and it happens that in the early hours of this morning I was answering email and chanced to look over at Google News, where I learned that Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter, had died. The Age news story at the top of Google’s list had quite extensive quotes from Ed O’Loughlin, a doctor who was aboard the helicopter that was called from Cairns to treat Irwin. The bulk of the quotations from O’Loughlin concerned how unusual the injuries were.

Answering emails late at night, of course, has its own dangers for those of us with susceptible imaginations. One of the emails—from a Stateside reader with a Michigan email address--had mentioned Mick Dundee, so the Irish in me got to wondering about what a coincidence that had been since there was no reason to expect an email about Crocodile Dundee, yet I got one the same day that the Crocodile Hunter had died.

Naturally, I became curious about the timing of the email so I checked out when it had been sent, and it turned out to be 2 1/2 hours after the helicopter had been called, but before the Queensland Police released their media alert about Irwin’s death. (According to the metadata in the source code at the QP News Alert website, that was at 3:15 in the afternoon AEST.)

Of course, I’ve really got no idea when Irwin’s death became public in Australia and the rest of the world, and in any case there’s no relationship between the two “crocodillian” events. But today, I thought I’d do a Google News search on the doctor’s name to see what I could find, and I found a whole new mystery! Here is a summary of the results.

As at 2:30 pm PDT:
Search on “o’loughlin”

Top return:
Irwin's stingray death unusual: doctor
The Age, Australia - 14 hours ago
... Ed O'Loughlin was aboard the Emergency Management Queensland Helicopter which was called from Cairns at 11.21am (AEST) on Monday. ...

Which links you to a story with a completely different headline:
Daredevil Irwin dies doing what he loved
September 4, 2006 - 2:24PM
in which O’Loughlin’s name is never once mentioned.

The second item returned is this one:
Doctor tells of treating Irwin
The Australian ( which links to this story):

Doctor tells of treating Irwin
September 04, 2006

( From article):
THE doctor called in to treat Steve Irwin said his death after being struck by a stingray barb was "highly unusual". ... Ed O'Loughlin was aboard the Emergency Management Queensland Helicopter which was called from Cairns at 11.21am (AEST) on Monday.... Dr O'Loughlin said he had worked in north Queensland for several months and in Perth before that and had not come across a death from a stingray before. "It would be highly unusual for a stingray to cause this type of injury," Dr O'Loughlin said. "He had a penetrating injury to the left front of his chest."...

Now, I understand that online news sites update their stories to keep the news fresh, but how come Google brings up headlines and story quotes that bear no relation at all to the articles that are returned?

Oh, well. It was an interesting name to search on, because it turns out The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald both use a Canadian-born Middle East correspondent by the name of Ed O’Loughlin, who has recently been reporting from Southern Lebanon about the deaths of civilians from US-sourced cluster bombs as families return.

Horrific as that may be, if you’re feeling down in the dumps today, try reading Ed O’Loughlin’s bio at The Age. It’ll cheer you up no end.


-- PEACE --

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