On the 25th June 2009, all forms of news media including print, TV, radio and online were bombarded with the death of Michael Jackson at the age of 50. Not only was this shown in America, but it became a global phenomenon and top news story for many countries around the world.
What was interesting was the vast amount of news coverage the incident received compared to other events that happened on the same day around the world, including:
- A roadside bomb kills five Iraqi policemen in Fallujah
- The Russian Supreme Court orders a retrial for three men on charges related to the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya
- Qantas Airways cancelled half of a 30-plan order for 787 Dreamliners from Boeing Co.
- Cristiano Ronaldo completes a world record transfer fee of 80 million pounds which sends him to Real Madrid from Manchester United
So why was the death of Michael Jackson given more importance than these other events? One American death compared to that of five deaths in Iraq? Personally, I believe it is because of the huge impact the artist has had on many individuals’ lives around the globe. Many of us have grown up watching, listening, singing and dancing to the songs of “MJ”. We have cultivated with his positive and negative portrayals in the media for decades. One man celebrated throughout the media multiple times before has influenced us more than five men in other countries, indicating that the media has shaped our society and our identities.
However, was the death of Michael Jackson a global news media example? The answer is NO! Although American media shows significance influence on the rest of the world, it is largely shaped by those in America. Therefore, the story shown in Australia, Africa, Japan, Russia, and France etc. is heavily based on the perception and facts provided in the host nation of the incident. As described by Reese (2010), “It may be more useful to recognize that globalizing media and journalism simply mean that the creators, objects, and consumers of news are less likely to share the same nation-state frame of reference”.
For example, the roadside bomb in Fallujah, which may be reported in France. The French news simply will not gather the “full story”, what if they don’t have reporters there at the time of the event? What if they don’t have networks set up within that country? What if there are tax and cultural barriers? It is simply too difficult to label news as ‘global’.
Yes, Michael Jackson was a celebrity! However, could there be other reasons why his death was portrayed globally by news media? This news take over could have been due to reasons such as cultural proximity, relevance, rarity, continuity, elite references, negativity, composition, and personalisation (Dreher, 2013).
Gamson (1989) identifies news framing as an inextricable way to engage readers and/or viewers in which “they take on their meaning by being embedded in a frame or a story line that organizes them and gives them coherence, selecting certain ones to emphasize while ignoring other” (p.157). What is evidently framed by news media covering the story of Michael Jackson’s death?
- Death caused by cardiac arrest
- Michael Jackson is NOT dead
- Doctor murdered Michael Jackson
- King of Pop dies at 50
- Death just before “This Is It” tour
- Drug-Use Allegations
- Family and Legal Affairs
- Effect on the “Jackson” family
Next time your watching the news, question whether the event is being given significant attention, is there other important events going on in the rest of the world? Is this particularly news story being framed because of high status, cultural proximity, rarity, relevance, negativity etc??
Anorak 2009, Michael Jackson Dominates the News, JPEG, accessed 22/09/2013, http://www.anorak.co.uk/214819/celebrities/michael-jackson-dominates-the-news.html/
Bonnie 2013, Today In Michael Jackson History, JPEG, accessed 22/09/2013, http://home.mj-upbeat.com/2013/06/26/today-in-michael-jackson-history-june-26th/
Dreher, T 2013, What counts in global news media?, lecture, BCM111 International Media and Communication, University of Wollongong, delivered 16 September
Gamson, M 1989, ‘News as Framing’, American Behaviorist Scientist, vol. 33, no.1, p.157, accessed 22/09/2013 http://abs.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/33/2/157
The Guardian 2009, Michael Jackson Death, JPEG, accessed 22/09/2013 http://www.theguardian.com/media/gallery/2009/jun/26/newspapers-national-newspapers?picture=349385181
Wikipedia 2010, Current Events 2009 June 25th, accessed 22/09/2013 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events/2009_June_25
YouTube 2009, Breaking News Michael Jackson Has Died, accessed 22/09/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjuxpeWX2ng
YouTube 2009, Today Show Promos-Michael Jackson’s Death-26/09/2009, accessed 22/09/2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyJNnn-atUo