June 25, 2009

The most significant media day in the past two decades

Posted in In the news at 9:32 pm by R

I’m paraphrasing my husband in the headline from a report he heard on the radio today.

We know now that the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson, has passed on at the age of 50 from an apparent cardiac arrest at his house in Holmbly Hill, Calif.

The means by which this information came to light and the speed at which the media reported was unlike anything I, and I’m sure many others, have never seen.

Today, the first news I saw of MJ was on a Facebook update. I immediately went to a trusted news resource to see what was going on — People.com had nothing up yet. (I don’t trust any entertainment news until People confirms it.)

As I searched for more information, tweets were lighting like wild fire with reports of an ambulance speeding to UCLA medical, an unconscious Jackson and words like, “grave situation.”

I pulled up TMZ.com and there before my stunned eyes was a huge masthead reading

RIP: Michael Jackson Dies

I quickly visited the usual news suspects (MSNBC, CNN, BBC, New York Times, LA Times), but few reported more than an incident where Jackson was rushed to the hospital.

Within the next five minutes breaking news headlines scrolled across every screen “REPORTS: Michael Jackson Dead,” and “unconfirmed sources” filled quotes. All of those sources which I deem as credible referred back to the shocking news TMZ boldly published.

The sheer onslaught of information was as shocking as the news being delivered today. Such a strange day. We’ve lost two cultural icons – Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. One, a rather expected death — perhaps even hoped for that she might have some peace and be set free from pain. The other so monumentally unexpected.

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Farrah Fawcett 1947-2009

Farrah Fawcett 1947-2009

The only other event in my lifetime that I can recall garnering so much attention and coverage is the tragic passing of Princess Diana. I was in 7th grade, spending the night at my friend Lindsey’s house and we watched CNN until the sun came up the next day. But event that momentous and awful event seems to pale in comparison to what I saw today.

Perhaps the reason why is the advent of Facebook and Twitter. People posted sentiments, memories, songs, videos, news reports, lyrics, photos, you name it, with lightening speed. I am awed by the out poring of touching reports and celebrity call ins and speed with which so many TV packages have been pulled together. ABC broadcast not one but two hour-long specials honoring the lives of Fawcett and Jackson.

But let’s face it: people like Farrah and MJ are the ones whose obituaries the Associated Press (and many other news outlets) had drafted years and years ago.

Like him or not, you can’t deny his impact on GLOBAL society. He’s not unlike the phenomena of social media, which in so many ways heralded the news of his death.

I don’t doubt whatever personality who dubbed today the most significant media day in the past two decades. In my twenty-something life I can’t recall anything like it.



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