How Michael Jackson Brought Back Traditional Media (for now…)

MJ Photo Via Cinie World

“The media is dead, long live the media!”

Coupled with recent ZDNet op-ed from Google’s Jeremy Allison with the same headline, this tweet from Tom Foremski for #mediatalklive forum got me thinking… has the recent wave of exorbitant Michael Jackson coverage in traditional, new and social media alike brought the dueling mediums closer together? Or again, pit them one against the other?

It’s no secret that it wasn’t just the tabloids that loved anything and everything Michael Jackson, undeniably making all media have a hand in the draining of his celebrity in one way or another. The last few weeks were no different, with one exception… the role of social media in the three ring circus that is ‘Jacko’ coverage.

However musically talented he was, the sheer fact that the gloved one took over every form of media imaginable for over a week (indeed the true king of ALL media, sorry Howard) is already more unparalleled than Thriller ever was… the media’s in-sync chorale around the life and death of Michael Jackson may have brought back traditional media, even if only for a little while.

While the story did break on TMZ.com, ‘Jacko’ coverage always lived in print and broadcast. For more than a few days, I saw more people watch TV in homes and offices or read newspapers on NYC subways and buses than I ever have. Social media seemed to discuss various news and late night segments while linking to commemorative print editions… sounds like a gasp of relief for traditional media to me.

I understand that this could all be a perception and observational mistake on my part, or maybe it’s just the world’s way to show appreciation for a talent that’s gone… but I will say this, the ‘filter’ of traditional media props up the old medium against its newly minted counterparts online, specifically in situations as controversial as the life and death of Michael Jackson…

To me, the grieving fans and the tasteful homage paid to the King of Pop by traditional media was something to behold… however even when watching the CNN/Facebook broadcast of the memorial, the sidebar was peppered with rough and distasteful commentary from ‘the public,’ also being echoed in the trending topics on Twitter (read: Michael Jackson Memorial Takes Over Twitter), as much adoration as hate present. And when New York Rep. Peter King wanted to air his angst against the media orgy where did he go? Fox News? CNN? No, Youtube (see the rant here).

To paraphrase a quote from 140TC, “crowdsourcing ruins everything, because not everyone has good taste”… this mega event is no exception; editors, producers and filters of traditional media showed the last few weeks why they are still relevant, if anything by showing the very real possibility that the masses can be so cruel, if just given the chance.

If not for a moment, Michael Jackson brought back old media… and gave them a breath of fresh air as it continues to move further and further underwater.

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