It is a sad day for television, journalism, politics, and frankly, the whole country. Tim Russert died this afternoon of a heart attack at NBC’s Washington Bureau. He was 58.

We became aware of the rumors about his death internally at ABC News around 3pm. It was almost 45 minutes later before Tom Brokaw interrupted NBC and MSNBC to report the death. By then several news outlets, including the New York Times and the New York Post were reporting it. There is a gentleman’s agreement between the television networks to defer to the shop affected before reporting news about the competition. When NBC finally went on the air, so did we, updating our site, etc. The same deference was given when our own Peter Jennings passed.

On the web, it was interesting to watch Twitter and Wikipedia through this ordeal. When we first heard rumors of the news, Twitter had only a few recent tweets about Tim Russert. Within 20 minutes there were a few dozen, and by the time I got back to my desk, after NBC had confirmed the news, it was in the thousands. Wikipedia had already been updated with his date of death before the rumors had even reached ABC’s newsroom.

Thoughts and prayers to the Russert family and Tim’s colleagues at NBC.