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Business - Written by on Friday, June 26, 2009 8:42 - 8 Comments

Laura M.  Carrillo
Michael Jackson and The Twitter Factor

How intriguing is it that social media and online sources are scooping more mainstream news outlets? Maybe they are the new mainstream?

As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, The MTV Generation, I can’t help but be shocked and saddened by the passing of both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson yesterday. MJ’s music in particular was and still is a large part of my life and it feels as though my childhood died just a little in the last 24 hours. That said, what I found interesting was the way that many found out about Michael’s death and the controversy surrounding report sources. CNN losing a scoop to TMZ? Per the Los Angeles Times, when asked about its Jackson coverage, CNN said: “Given the nature of this story we exercised caution.” It seems that while all of the “major” news sources were going with reports of MJ being in a coma, a TMZ blog broke the news of his death which was quickly picked up on Twitter and Facebook.

Wikipedia fought with people making modifications to Michael Jackson’s profile and eventually took down the site to disallow the numerous reports of Michael’s death? “ONCE AGAIN, HE IS NOT DEAD, JUST STOP,” wrote one of the editors who deleted Jackson’s date of death.

It was only 11 short years ago that Diana, Princess of Wales sudden death was being reported and covered 24X7 on every television station across the globe. Had theTMZ Blog, Twitter or Facebook been around, how much sooner would we, the public have known? Would it have mattered if we knew 20 minutes or 1 hour before “official word”? Could Diana’s death have garnered the same response? Tributes popping up in minutes,Flickr graphing MJ tracks played per hour, Twitter and Facebook profile pictures being changed to memorialize the deceased, “What’s Your Favorite MJ Song” – posted by many, apparently I’ll Be There by the Jackson 5 is winning by a landslide according to @dannymasterson.

Per The LA Times, Twitter activity measured over 5,000 Tweets about Michael Jackson at its peak, causing some, including myself, to have issues logging in. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone stated in an email “We saw an instant doubling of tweets per second the moment the story broke,” Stone wrote .. “This particular news about the passing of such a global icon is the biggest jump in tweets per second since the U.S. presidential election.” The power of social media is obvious.

Of course given the nature of social media tools and the ease of accessibility to anyone, it does provide an easy channel for rumors to start. Shortly after the Michael Jackson death was reported, rumors of Jeff Goldblum’s demise were rampant. Twitter post by @KevinSpacey “Jeff Goldblum is alive and well. I just spoke to his manager. Stop these stupid rumors.” So how much can we believe and when is it OK to “jump the gun” just to get the scoop? The quick reaction from celebrities and others on Twitter seem to support the case that social media is in general fairly self policing. The ease of access not only allows rumors to spread quickly, but also to be squashed just as quickly, often by the person directly affected.

Bottom line – Social media tools are just that, media, not just for reporting and verifying news but for supplying an extended community that allows for quick sharing of news AND views. These are the channels that allow the masses to learn from each other to express sadness, joy, accolades and criticisms.
RIP to all the famous faces we lost this week – Ed McMahon,Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson.

My question to you – How did you hear about Michael Jackson’s death? 1.0 or 2.0


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Brian Magierski
Jun 26, 2009 9:00

Nice post Laura. Oddly enough, as much as I am connected into social media I happened to hear about this via 1.0 while rearranging furniture in my living room. MJ was certainly pervasive in my childhood years.

What’s also remarkable in your post is the direct access we now have to celebrities and that they have to their fan base … it was interesting how you noted Kevin Spacey’s use of twitter to debunk rumors rather than trying to get a statement out to 1.0 media through a publicist.

All of this speaks to the speed and agility of social media. It’s almost as if the newsroom of old plays out in real time live for everyone to see … from rumor to fact checking to reality.

Web Media Daily – Friday June 26, 2009 | Reinventing Yourself...
Jun 26, 2009 9:27

[...] Michael Jackson and The Twitter Factor [...]

Jun 26, 2009 9:36

Frankly, I heard it the plain old 1.0 way : from the regular news report on the radio this morning … but that’s partly because I’m in Europe, which means that I wasn’t online anymore when the announcement was made!

crashroots — Blog — Michael Jackson and The Twitter Factor
Jun 26, 2009 10:09

[...] and online sources are scooping more mainstream news outlets? Maybe they are the new mainstream? Read more at wikinomics VN:F [1.4.6_730]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast) [...]

Jun 26, 2009 13:45

Great article! This information gives one a lot to think about the way we connect with each other. I heard about MJ’s death from a family member.

Mike Dover
Jun 27, 2009 1:52

I heard about it on the radio while in a cab from CDG to Montmatre. That’s old school.

Laura Carrilo
Jun 27, 2009 21:49

Thank you for the responses, interesting to hear how the news spread. Personally I was watching my Twitter feeds which reported his passing, while watching CNN which was still reporting he was in a coma.

Adam Clarke
Jul 9, 2009 12:33

Strangely enough, I too heard the news on the radio here in Dublin, Ireland. With that said, it does a job to compare radio comparatively to 2.0/3.0 mediums with TV being the new outcast.

While working and in personal downtime, one is far more likely to have the radio on (while working, going about chores, chatting with friends).

Is television becoming an unsociable medium? Yes, I tuned in to see what so-called ‘experts’ were saying and to guage an official point of view and, perhaps, to get TOTAL confirmation that events were ‘real’.

However, there are more and more resources online with a TRUSTED voice. There will soon be a collaborative network of traditional and consumer generated news content (user rated etc) that will be THE channel. This will be online. Collaborate, fuse and collect data and give it an official stamp. It’s happening now.

Interesting thread. Thanks!

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