How the media reacted to the sudden death of Michael Jackson

When a cultural figurehead dies suddenly — as in the recent cases of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon — newsrooms are often left scrambling to produce not only print and broadcast retrospectives, but multimedia and interactive stories as well. Planning ahead on how to address such breaking news, as highlighted in this post, is key to reacting to such events in a timely matter.

One of the quickest multimedia elements to create in the event of an unforeseen death is a photo slideshow, which many media organizations produced after Michael Jackson’s passing.

NBC Los Angeles combined wire and staff photos to create two photo slideshows: one of fans reactions to the news of the pop singer’s death and the other a visual timeline of Jackson’s storied career.

CNN, El País and The Associated Press (here, here and here) took similar approaches highlighting the singer’s music and personal appearances in slideshow form.

The Los Angeles Times took a unique approach to the slideshow approach, creating a slideshow of the unique and downright bizarre art dedicated to the “King of Pop.”

Mexico’s El Universal took the concept even further with a self-contained Flash piece that includes photos, a timeline and an infographic. In this age of breaking news, it is not enough to know how to create multimedia or Flash-based projects but know how to produce them quickly and with little notice.

Of course, online coverage of Michael Jackson’s death went beyond just slideshows. The Guardian (UK) created a dataset of every one of the singer’s hit songs and is encouraging users to transform the data into visualizations or whatever they can imagine. Technology blog Chip Chick created a visual history of Jackson’s contributions to technology and the New York Times created an interactive infographic of the singer’s Billboard chart history.

Twitter played a large role in spreading the news of Jackson’s death (view a map of “Michael Jackson” tweets here), proving once more that the news audience will not wait for traditional media to break news. The ultimate goal is not to compete with social media, but to create online content that is both timely and accurate.

Thanks to @LizRemus, @phiden, @chilango2, @lfmccullough, @jisa39, @NBCLocal, DannyDougherty and @brainwise for their suggestions for this post.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Do you have a multimedia emergency plan?
Where to find the best in Flash journalism
5 Common photo slideshow mistakes