Friday, June 26, 2009

The news is confirmed

Last night ,when we had finished watching CSI Miami, we turned over to Euronews just to see what was going on in the world. Across the bottom of the screen was the breaking news about Michael Jackson. Eager to find out more, we switched to France 24 which had a similar news flash on the screen. Aljazeera had better coverage of the story but we knew for something more definitive we needed to go to one of the American news channels.

The Digital Plus package includes CNN and Fox News channels so we tried both of those. They had in depth news of the story but neither were conclusive about what exactly had happened to the “King of Pop”. There was lots of material related to Michael’s life, his rise to fame, the child molestation charges, his excessive lifestyle and the promised UK O2 Arena tour but only sketchy information about what had happened to him save the fact that he had been rushed to hospital following a suspected cardiac arrest.

Neither channel was able to confirm what condition the singer was in until at about 12pm, CNN said they had reports that he had fallen into a coma. An expert explained that following a cardiac arrest, it is not unusual for someone to fall into a coma. It all sounded very dire.

It wasn’t until 12:30pm that reports from the LA Times suggested that Jackson had in fact died. At the same time, Laura, our youngest daughter phoned from Sale nr Manchester to tell us that Sky News were already reporting his death. Still there was no official bulletin, so we could not be sure of the truth.

There seemed little point in staying up any longer to discover the full facts of what had happened so we went to bed. What struck me though as I was going to sleep was the immediacy of all this information. When we were younger, you had had to to wait until the newspapers were out the next day to hear this sort of news.

Events such as the death of Princess Diana in Paris in August 1977 and much later the attack on the twin towers in New York on the 11th September 2001, showed that today, news can be made available worldwide - as it happens.

Whether this is a good or bad thing is not my point. It was impressive that both CNN and Fox were able to assemble such detailed background stories so quickly. It makes me wonder if news services have these obituaries prepared well in advance of a person’s demise. Do they have all this background information ready assembled just in case or do they fly by the seat of their pants when tragedy happens?

RIP Michael Jackson.

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