Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remember The Time (Part 2)

The news that MJ is dead took some time to sink in, but by yesterday afternoon, I was feeling much better already. It was heartening to hear MJ's songs being put on high rotation throughout the day, with Class 95FM and Power 98FM playing a different MJ song every hour.

Class 95FM also produced several snippets "Remembering Michael Jackson", featuring trivia and milestones of his career. It was a nice touch and I deeply appreciate the outpouring of love from the DJs and the station.

In fact, for today's blog post, I want to focus on the immediate impact MJ's death had on the world's media. I have always felt that MJ is (was) the world's most famous living person, and it was proved beyond doubt yesterday.

As such, I visited all the major news sites and unsurprisingly, all of them featured MJ on their homepage. And it was not just one or two articles but multiple stories covering his death. Almost every one of them had video stories, photo galleries celebrating his life in pictures, lists of his best songs/videos, career milestones and more. I would say the amount of coverage he received in a single day is unprecedented.

On Google News, a news story aggregator, the number of news stories related to MJ grew and grew. At midnight last night, it was 13,497 articles. At about 2am, it had grown to 16,008, and at 3pm today, the number has ballooned to 20,182 articles. I don't think even Obama's presidential election received so many web-inches dedicated to the subject.

Midnight - 13,497 related articles

2am - 16,008 related articles
3pm - 20,182 articles
I thought it was important to capture the moment, so I saved screengrabs of all the other major news channels last night. Here's a snapshot:

The NEWS websites:



ABC News

The New York Times
USA Today

The Washington Post
Sky News


Entertainment Weekly

E! Online

The Hollywood Reporter
The MUSIC websites:

Yahoo! Music

Rolling Stone

And of course, MTV was also one of the first to pay tribute to the man. All their international MTV website homepages were skinned with MJ images, and the channel immediately changed their television programming to feature MJ specials. All within a day. (USA)

MTV owes a huge debt to MJ and it is fitting and gracious of them to do all these in such a short turnaround time. MTV Asia has lined up a series of MJ specials, and you can check out the showtimes at

As news of MJ's death broke, the media were not the only busy ones. Millions of people around the world, people who might not even have been fans, posted the news and comments online on social networking sites. Twitter went into overdrive and almost crashed, while Facebook homepages were inundated with staus updates and links from news sites.

This particular article struck me as funny, and yet perfectly encapsulates the power of MJ, even in his death. From CNN: Jackson dies, almost takes Internet with him

Another report on how MJ couldn't resist breaking even more records. From USA Today: News of Jackson death breaks Web records

Even Wikipedia got mobbed, as the Michael Jackson entry set the record as having the highest traffic in its 8-year history - nearly one million visitors in the hour after MJ's death was confirmed. From The New York Times: With Jackson Entry, Wikipedia May Have Set A Record

YouTube also experienced a surge in traffic for MJ clips, as millions of people posted YouTube links onto their Facebook profiles. Yesterday, they also put MJ in the Spotlight on their homepage.

YouTube homepage

On the retail front, people are also responding by forking out money to buy MJ's albums. I visited a few CD shops in town yesterday and all their stock of MJ titles were gone. HMV still had stock, and they quickly printed a headerboard and dedicated an entire rack for MJ's albums.

HMV Heeren
Internationally, MJ albums surged to the top of the charts, as evidenced by Amazon's bestseller lists.

Amazon homepage

Albums and Videos charts
Looking at all these, it helps to soothe the pain and it provides me great pleasure to know that I'm not alone in recognising MJ's talent and the profound effect he had on me. It is unfortunate that only in his passing will he be remembered for his genius, but maybe, it's better late than never.

MJ is an enigma and he always will be. The attention now will turn to investigating the cause of his death and about cleaning up the "mess" he had left behind - his children's custody, his debts, his will, his 50 concerts that never happened and more. But I want to remember him for just one thing today - his legacy.



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