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Tragedy feeds the Media Machine

June 26th, 2009

Tragedy is news and news the population and media vehicles flock to in overwhelming numbers.  Over the last week we’ve seen that on multiple levels – from the violence in Iran around the election and the tragic death of a female protester named Neda (Warning – any video that is found through this link has the potential to be VERY graphic), to yesterday’s news about the early and unfortunate passing of two entertainment icons – Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson

With Neda, the young Iranian protester that is now being called ‘the voice of Iran’ (‘voice’ is a direct interpretation of her name in Persian)  is the unwitting ‘face’ for the media surrounding the Iran revolution.  You can’t read a story after her tragic death about the turmoil in Iran without a mention of her name or a link to the gruesome video.  The social travel alone of this event has been amazing.  All the major media vehicles have tapped into this story and specific event, while the social movement behind the spread of the protest has been one of the hottest trends on Twitter over the last 2 weeks.

I’m not sure Farrah Fawcett will ever get her proper due with regards to recognition by the media of her passing as a result of the death of the King of Pop on the same day.  While Farrah was the 70’s ‘It Girl’ in America, Michael Jackson was a global brand that drove a media frenzy every time there was a shred of ‘news’ about his exploits.  CNN released a story today that documents the dramatic effect that news of Jackson’s death had on the Internet backbone, leading with the quote:

How many people does it take to break the Internet? On June 25, we found out it’s just one — if that one is Michael Jackson.

Wikipedia registered more than 650 edits to his page since the news broke and New Media Strategies notes that the daily average of 20,000 visitors to his page spiked to more than 1.8 million after the announcement hit the wire.  Mashable reports that by Friday morning “tributes to, and remarks upon, Michael Jackson’s death were responsible for 30 percent of tweets.”  With the advent of social media and the tools facilitate real time sharing from any location, news of his death and arrangements for spontaneous memorials spread like wild fire – with fans coming together to mourn and pay respects to a music icon.

Neda, Farrah, Michael – rest in peace – you will be missed by many and forgotten by few.

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