So how did the U.S. media, particularly the networks, fare with their coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial service?
"Some network anchors seemed a bit mortified by their own unstinting and reverential coverage," writes Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times ("Funeral of a Superstar as a Media Moment"). "But there was another, less obvious allure to the incessant, insatiable coverage. With so many hours to fill, television anchors and commentators give voice — literally and loudly — to the kinds of private, contradictory thoughts that so often dart through guests’ minds at a funeral. Flashes of sorrow and reminiscence collide with nosy curiosity about the will, the debts, custody battles, family entanglements and even the extravagant cost of the ceremony." She also raised other interesting points on the coverage.
Funeral of a Superstar as a Media Moment
By Alessandra Stanley
The New York Times
Of course the networks interrupted their regular programming to cover it. Of course the 24-hour cable news stations never left it, and of course, most everybody around the world stopped what they were doing — on television, on the Internet and on the street — to look and listen.
Michael Jackson’s memorial service on Tuesday was solemnly presented on television as a state funeral, and not surprisingly. This was a star-studded live concert infused with all the pageantry, sorrow and ghoulish curiosity that attends the untimely demise of a beloved, troubled superstar. And more than almost anyone else, Mr. Jackson bracketed history and supermarket tabloids. Nelson Mandela sent a celebratory message to the tribute; Brooke Shields recalled going with the singer to sneak a first peek at Elizabeth Taylor’s (eighth) wedding dress.
Read here for the rest of her article.
Columbia Journalism Review noted the overwhelming coverage of Jackson's death. "And as important as Michael Jackson was—for his beloved music, for being a metaphor of America’s racial cipher, for the cautionary tale he represented—we all honestly know that his death is not the most important story in the world," CJR editors said.
CJR editors raised an important question that journalists everywhere should think about. "So when the audience demand for a story like Jackson’s death is there—and it is—how much of it should journalists cover? To what extent should major outlets try to set the news agenda, as opposed to follow popular demand? In short, how much Jackson is too much Jackson?"
(Photo above taken by Kevork Djansezian and sourced from The New York Times)