Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Covering Michael Jackson

Fan or not, do you think the coverage of Michael Jackson's death has already become excessive? With due respect to Jackson's family and recognition of his musical legacy, do you feel inundated with the press coverage? Well, expect news outlets (and new media sites) to provide a more relentless coverage with the memorial service for Jackson that is going to happen any time soon. Major U.S.-based TV networks--from CNN to ABC, MSNBC and E! Entertainment--are reportedly covering the event live.

Following Jackson's death, the press unsurprisingly shifted its focus from reporting on protests in Iran and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's admission to the celebrity's demise, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

PEJ News Coverage Index: June 22 - 28, 2009
Media Swing from Protests in Iran to the Passing of the King of Pop
Source: Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

In the age of 24 hours news, sometimes it’s hard to know how to measure time.

Last week the news narrative careened through three distinct, often dramatic phases, and ended overwhelmed by a celebrity story that echoed coverage from more than a decade ago.

As the week began, the continuing protests in Iran, now into their third week, dominated the media. But as the Iranian government began to drive the protests underground, coverage began to recede—even if the tensions in the country had not—a sign that street protests may be easier to cover than political maneuvering behind closed doors.

By Wednesday afternoon, media attention was already shifting from protest to disgrace when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made a stunning admission of having an extra-marital affair after having gone missing for several days.

Then, late Thursday afternoon, the reports ricocheted across Twitter, celebrity gossip Web sites and mainstream media alerts that Michael Jackson, the self-described “King of Pop,” had been rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. The tabloid celebrity Web site TMZ.com was the first to report that he had been pronounced dead. The Los Angeles Times soon confirmed, and within a few hours, Jackson’s demise proved to be the biggest celebrity story in perhaps a decade, something akin to the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1999 and perhaps even that of Princess Diana in 1997.

For the week, the protests in Iran ended up being the biggest story, totaling 19% of the newshole studied during June 22-28 by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Though he died Thursday night, Michael Jackson’s death was nearly as big, filling 18%, and Governor Sanford’s story, which fully broke on Wednesday, was third at 11%.

But that time unit doesn’t capture the feel of the week. By week’s end, every other event struggled for attention amid the cascade of Jackson video clips and remembrances, panel discussions and interview segments.

It was a reminder of how the media at times can be captivated by the hold of celebrity on some people’s lives and at the same time will eagerly exploit it.

Read the full report here.

Two out of three Americans felt that "news organizations gave too much coverage to the story," according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Tired of the press attention on Jackson's death, San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli asks: "With all due respect to the Jackson family, anybody else for letting them mourn in peace? Or at least not on the news programs?"

Who is sick of Michael Jackson TV coverage?
SFGate: Politics Blog
Joe Garofoli

Anybody else oversaturated with cable news coverage of Michael Jackson's death? For us, the high-water mark hit when Anderson Cooper led "AC 360" Tuesday night with maybe a seven- or eight minute-interview (or so it seemed) with a woman purporting to be Jackson's nurse. Or nutritionist. Or both. She then detailed some requests that MJ made about his favorite pharmaceuticals over the past few months.

AC cautioned the audience that CNN couldn't confirm her story independently.

Read more here.

Jon Friedman of Marketwatch also wrote about the media coverage of Jackson's death, but he tackled instead what he felt major lapses in the coverage. "The media's most glaring deficiency was to focus almost exclusively on the glitz and glamour and overlook the nuances. Journalists should've done a much better job of explaining the big picture beyond the splashy headlines. The TV news journalists, in particular, seldom saw a need to go beyond the red-meat aspects of the headlines," he wrote in a recent column. "All they did was blab on and speculate, without offering hard facts or original ideas. And all we got was a bunch of stories intended to titillate, not educate us."

Michael Jackson to Madoff: A tale of two media circuses Commentary: Why splashy headlines don't serve the public's needs
Jon Friedman's Media Web
Market Watch
July 1, 2009

It was the kind of week that pays the bills for media outlets. But for discerning news junkies, it was a nightmare of excess and nonsense.

Last Thursday, Michael Jackson died in Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world. Only four days later, Bernard Madoff stood in a court in lower Manhattan, a stone's throw from the New York Stock Exchange, and was sentenced to serve 150 years. In other weeks, the deaths of other celebrities like Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett would have been big news. This time, they were invisible by comparison.

Read the full item here. Thanks to the Columbia Journalism Review for the tip.

So what are your thoughts about the issue? (Michael Jackson's art graphic above from this site)


AsskCLA™ said...

i have a similar post kaya lang last year pa ata yun... about kay heath ledger...hehehe!:) kuya bry! gumgwapo!hehehehe!:p

Hector Bryant L. Macale said...


Hahahah! Dinadaya ka lang ng mga mata mo. Thanks! :D

Tin said...

This is speaking from our experience sa online news. Much as we say a lot of things shouldn't be high on the news agenda, somehow readers still look for it.

Sure, we put it as the top story, and all sections have their own Michael Jackson story with a different angle, (milking it for all it's worth. ;]) kaya siguro yun nalang ang ic-click ng reader kasi that's what you serve up on the news menu.

The surge of hits for MJ was super higher than the other more important political stories. It's the same case when we have like a really good feature on poverty pero it only gets like, 600+ hits as opposed to Charice stories na 13,000+.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm sad that this is the case, that glitzy gossip gets more attention than other more relevant stuff. And I recently learned that sex really does sell. Nakaka-disillusion lang in a way.

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