Media inappropraitely remembers celebrities

By Justin Rheingold, Online breaking News Editor

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The TV is turned on to the local news when, in the blink of an eye, a breaking news report flashes across the screen showing people mourning the death of the “King of Pop,” as they crowd around a police barricade at a hospital entrance. Fast-forward two months later and breaking news reports air that Senator Edward Kennedy has passed.

In the past few months, America has lost tremendous people with incredible influence and unique personalities. However, coverage of each person’s death has varied significantly, with some being overly sensational and others demonstrating genuine respect.

Michael Jackson was born with true musical talent and grew into a cultural icon, an A-list celebrity and a composer of numerous hit albums. While he epitomized pop culture with the flash, the paparazzi and the scandals, his influence on the everyday lives of Americans was minimal.

However, reports from news outlets do not give an accurate representation of this reality. Instead, the week following Jackson’s death consisted of around the clock gossip about him.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Jackson coverage added up to 18 percent of the news reported that week. Even three weeks after his death, coverage relating to him still accounted for two percent of all news. Still today, new developments in his cause of death and custody situation continue to arise and consume portions of journalistic publications.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum of coverage lies the death of the “Liberal Lion of the Senate,” Ted Kennedy. His achievements in health care, education, immigration and consumer protection eclipse any positive influence that Michael Jackson has had on the well-being of America’s citizens.

Under these circumstances then, it is understandable and sensible that coverage of his death would account for 27 percent of all news coverage in the week following his death, according to Pew.

Kennedy did have more coverage immediately following his death, as he should have had. Nevertheless, Jackson’s coverage will continue far into the future as his estate and custody issues are settled. However, that should not be the case, as Kennedy’s legacy will continue to affect generations through government practices, while Jackson’s death will affect future generations solely based on musical taste.

The comparable amount of coverage is not the only problem in the way news outlets have been working. The actual content of the news about these two figureheads has become equally disparate. Upon Kennedy’s passing, outlets began to unravel his life, with class and sophistication through well-constructed tributes involving hard and factual evidence about his life. Although Kennedy’s death was imminent and Jackson’s was sudden, the coverage of the latter’s is still inexcusable. Journalism concerning Jackson’s death was dotted with speculation and gossip.

The idea that coverage regarding Jackson’s death lacked news-worthiness, was justified further by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. When the faux-media begins to mock the antics of the true media, something is seriously wrong, and the true media’s actions must be corrected.

A man with a unique perspective in the Senate, one of its few consensus builders and collaborators has died. Irreplaceable as he may be, his governmental legacy will carry on for decades to come, and will affect the children and grandchildren of every American today. A celebrity figure also perished, a man of great music and a man of great distinction. Someone with extreme talent is capable of replacing him, and as history shows, music progresses and new style will continue to develop. Overall, newspapers and cable networks alike can refer to this coverage as a learning experience for how future obituaries should and must be constructed, in an unbiased and purely factual manner.