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Media Take Second Look at Coverage of Jackson’s Death

Amid the extensive coverage of pop star Michael Jackson's death, media outlets are asking themselves what news stories may have been missed. Analysts and reporters take a look at the issue.

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    Finally tonight, Michael and the media. Jeffrey Brown has our report.


    It was, of course, everywhere, the coverage of Michael Jackson's death, the playing of his videos, the memorial service carried live by multiple networks, the reports on his career and problems.

    But was all that a problem for the media and media consumers? How are decisions made to cover one story and not others? Near the end of the CBS nightly news on Wednesday, Katie Couric had this to say to her audience.

    KATIE COURIC, host, CBS Evening News: Michael Jackson's sudden death and the mystery surrounding it captivated the world, or much of it, eclipsing other news. Jeff Glor now tells us some of the stories that happened in the last two weeks that are definitely worth noting.


    Among those other stories CBS then reported: the president's trip to Russia; the riots in China; and the ongoing debate over health care reform.

    We talk about Jackson and other stories now with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center; Bev Smith, who hosts her own nightly talk show on the American Urban Radio Networks; and Andrew Leckey, president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.

    Well, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Katie Couric said the Michael Jackson story eclipsed other news. How would you characterize what happened this past week?

  • KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, Annenberg Public Policy Center:

    Well, when Michael Jackson's death gets more coverage in some broadcast and cable news outlets than did the climate change legislation that passed the House the day after, I think we've got a problem.

    And when Michael Jackson's memorial took more news time in those cable and broadcast outlets than did the wrap-up of President Obama's summit in Russia, which included a provisional agreement to reduce nuclear arms, I think we need to worry about news judgment.

    And it raises for me this question. Let's suppose that we're now dealing with next week's news. How much live coverage is Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearing going to get? Is it going to be comparable to what Michael Jackson's memorial got? And, hypothetically, what would have happened if the confirmation hearings had been up against the memorial? What would that news judgment have been?


    Well, Bev Smith, what was the argument for giving it so much time? And did you worry about what was being missed?