By Hari Sreenivasan, CBS News
As the creation and consumption of content regarding Michael Jackson continues, sadly I wonder about the circumstances surrounding the future of my business (aka mainstream media) perhaps as much as I do about the particular circumstances involved in the end of an entertainer’s life.
The same media that helped build a global brand more recognized than McDonald’s or Microsoft and made the Moonwalk a worldwide shuffle is back now, for a last chance to prod and poke into the life and death of someone who stole the spotlight when he was on stage and shunned it when he was off stage. It seems now, however, that the information gathering apparatus is more a multi-headed and all-consuming hydra that instantly amplifies any piece of information it can to the masses. This, compared to the idea of some semi-enlightened collective running head long toward the verification of fact, or toward offering perspective which may let its audience make a more informed and independent decision on the Michael they would like to remember.
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From the moment the first rumors of his death surfaced on TMZ and were echoed across the twitter-sphere, 24 hour cable news and the broadcast networks tried to “confirm” it, and it was a process we seemed to witness “live”. As one network after another cut into normally scheduled programming and reported that Jackson was dead, a 24 hour cable channel said they had confirmed with sources that he was in a coma. That very moment also highlighted the importance of trusted intermediaries. For it was not until the L.A. Times (“old” media) ran with the story, did it seemingly become fact that was echoed through several other trusted brands.