Friday, Jul. 03, 2009


Michael Jackson died while he was still young, famous and weird. He died while many of his fans were still unfamiliar with seeing their heroes exit the stage. He died on the cusp of a possible comeback. All this, plus the unexpectedness of it — he was only 50 — made his death on June 26 one of those events that's difficult to process as an individual. Grief for a public figure, like gossip or a great song, is much more powerful when it is shared.

Jackson's death was also the first of its kind to occur in the new media world, where news can come from anywhere and gets passed around the Web on Twitter feeds and Facebook updates and story comments with millions of individuals volunteering their particular insight or spin or emotion. Instead of a few media monoliths speaking for us all, Jackson's fans, detractors and impartial observers all spoke for themselves. This story should have provided a blueprint for how new media has overthrown old. But what it actually did was shine a white hot spotlight on the myths of the current media landscape: