Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Michael Jackson death dominates the news


below, release PEJ.....

In Just Two Days, Jackson's Passing Nearly Passes Iran in the News of the Week

With unrest in Iran and a new political scandal, the media had its pick of stories to report on the week of June 22-28. But by week's end, the death of Michael Jackson quickly dominated the media agenda, according to a report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Early last week, ongoing attention to protests over the Iranian election continued to dominate the news narrative, and by week's end Iran filled 19% of the newshole, making it still the No. 1 topic of the week. But much of that came early. Indeed, in the first two days of the week, nearly a third of all coverage (31%) was devoted to events in the country. But as the protest movement moved underground, and the story became harder to cover, coverage subsided. By Wednesday attention shifted to the third biggest story of the week--the controversy around South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who admitted to an extra-marital affair after having gone missing for several days (11%).

But it was the late Thursday afternoon reports that Michael Jackson had died that captured the essence of the media narrative last week. The passing of the "King of Pop" was the No. 2 story last week, accounting for 18% of the newshole. From the time of the announcement of his death through the end of day Friday, more than 28 hours (60% of news coverage studied) was dedicated to Jackson's passing. Cable news led the coverage, devoting 93% of airtime to the icon on Thursday and Friday. The story captured 55% of online coverage and 37% of front-page newspaper coverage. All other stories vied for attention amidst the biggest celebrity story in a decade.

These findings are part of PEJ's running content analysis of media coverage, called the News Coverage Index, which studies 55 outlets from five media sectors.

Other findings include:
Michael Jackson generated the most headlines last week, appearing as lead newsmaker in 15% of stories. Following Jackson was President Obama (11%); Mark Sanford (8%); Farah Fawcett (1%); Neda Agha-Soltan (1%) and Ed McMahon (1%).
Jackson as lead newsmaker the week of June 22-28 marks only the second time this year that someone other than Obama generated the most headlines in a single week. Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor was the only other person to do so.
Other big stories last week included health care reform, largely centered on Congress negotiating Obama's plan (7%); the ongoing economic crisis, especially troubled banks and effects on state governments (7%) and the tragic red line metro crash in Washington D.C. (5%). The deaths of Farah Fawcett (1%) and Ed McMahon (1%) rounded out the list of top stories last week.
Click here for a direct link to a PDF of the report. The study is for immediate release at our website,



He's Back! MJ and Farrah can't keep Mark Sanford down. He gave a “lengthy and emotional" interview to AP.


How many times will he make us say "What was he thinking?"


I grew up with his music he will be sadly missed.

My theory is Michael Jackson was big during a time when American life was a little less stressful.

That is why Elvis Presley is loved.

Not that life is never without stress, but the biggest news items I can think of during Jackson's reign was Iran-Contra-gate, the oil embargo, small foreign cars being bought and sold more readily than domestic. REMEMBER BUY AMERICAN! The Japanese and Chinese was selling us everything. And ONLY Chrysler was looking for a bailout. NOT the whole darn financial marketplace.

Harold Washington became mayor of Chicago during that time and we though council wars was the biggest issue. Neslon Mandela was released from prison.

There is much more but I refuse to get into the dynamics of race.

We were in one war I believe NOT two and trying to get out of it! No airplanes flying into buildings and basically home grown terrorists such as the Oklahoma City bombing incident.

And who can ever forget the Grenada invasion?

I think Michael Jackson's music is what taking people back to a time less stressful and not so much his death. Oh yes, his death is a big part of this persent news cycle, but it is the music which is more important.

His music was fun, lively, dynamic and so was he. How many people did any of us try to emulate in clothing, dancing and style? You might have loved their music but you didn't go out and buy clothing made by them. You bought a tee-shirt with an image of your favorite artist.

Closet I can come to is the Rolling Stones!

With Michael Jackson you actually tried to be him!!

People get tired of the toils of everyday life. Therefore let's celebrate when times were a little less stressful. And Michael Jackson's music happens to be doing just that.

The wars, the men who have political power and cheat on their wives, the angst between political parties and the ever present existence of racism, sexism, bigotry and hatred even for gays and lesbians will always be in the news. Murder rates will not go down, nor the abuse of women and children in some communities. Drunk drivers killing innocent people, HIV and flu epidemics will continue to cross our paths as well as unknown diseases to come.

This is a momentary blip on the radar of life and people are immersed in it until the next wake-up call about incidents such as the one in Iran about voting scams, or airplanes mysteriously dropping out of the air.

I'm simply going to enjoy Michael's music & videos but stay in the present while I day dream about a time that has long gone by.

Thanks Mr. Michael Jackson for the music.


MJ did get press ...he is the King of POP...and no I did not say WAS!!! He still is!!!

But SANDFORD!!! Still seemed to catch the attention of the watchers as well out of South Carolina. WOW!!! Presidency out the window for you.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 30, 2009 10:12 AM.

Duck quack ring tone grabs Obama attention at LGBT reception was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama gives shout out to Penny Pritzker. Transcript is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.