The death of a celebrity is always a tough time. It brings people out in full force, ready to offer condolences to each other and show support for the family, or whoever’s left. It brings people together, as they gather on the street outside the hospital, or at that person’s Hollywood star.
I would like to start by saying that Michael Jackson’s death is a tragedy. Every death is.
But Farrah Fawcett also died yesterday. And according to the AV Club website, the guitarist and lead singer of the Seeds died. The US Census Bureau reports that 1.8 people die every second. 155,131 every day.
What strikes me is any news website today will be dominated by the death of Michael Jackson. For good reason, surely, but there is a degree when it becomes too much. The New York Times has suspended it’s other headlines for a Michael Jackson tribute page right up front. It’s the same with every major news website–CNN, Washington Post, LA Times, even foreign newspapers. (In a bold move, too, the Times of India’s headline reads “Michael Jackson lived like king, died in debt”).
So, when it all comes down to it, is there a difference in the media between an entertainer and people who have done really important, world-changing things? The kind of coverage Jane Goodall’s death will get, or Stephen Hawking’s, or Nelson Mandela’s could only hope to be as much as Jackson’s.
It’s a question of values. To run the article with many supplements and slideshows and videos, putting aside perhaps more important stories, seems like too much.