Jackson’s Death Dominates Media

TV nets turn on a dime; Web traffic spikes
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LOS ANGELES: The sudden death of Michael Jackson at the age of 50 took hold of the nation’s media platforms yesterday. KNBC in Los Angeles went wall-to-wall in the afternoon when the news broke, running live chopper footage of the fans gathering outside of UCLA Medical Center, where Jackson was pronounced dead on Thursday afternoon. Within just a few hours, NBC network had put together a one-hour retrospective of Jackson’s life and death for “Dateline,” which ran a second hour dedicated to Farrah Fawcett, who lost her battle with cancer on Thursday before news of Jackson’s death broke. ABC News compiled a “20/20” episode on the entertainer, while CBS News did a one-hour special. Several other cable news shows devoted coverage to Jackson’s death, blamed on a heart attack.

Some Internet sites choked on the news, according to Venture Beat. TMZ.com, the Hollywood gossip news site that broke the news of Jackson being taken to the hospital, went down from a traffic surge, VB said. The Los Angeles Times site, which reported that Jackson was comatose, also went down. Twitter choked on the spike, while several news sites slowed significantly. More than 16 percent of the Tweets posted on Twitter in the 24 hours surrounding Jackson’s death mentioned the singer, according to Nielsen. Nearly 9 percent of all blogs measured by Nielsen mentioned Jackson.

Jackson’s 40-plus-year career included a catalog of TV appearances, including the 1993 Super Bowl XXVII half-time show, viewed by nearly 91 million people. His 1993 interview with Oprah drew 62.3 million people, according to Nielsen. A 1995 Diane Sawyer interview with Jackson and then-wife Lisa Marie Presley drew 37.5 million people. The controversial Martin Bashir documentary in February, 2003, drew 27.1 million viewers.

-- Deborah D. McAdams