First Ed McMahon, now Farrah and Michael. So yeah, I’m just a news reporter from West Virginia, and I never met a single one of them, but my heart is still sad.
When I was on my way to work, I was talking to my parents about Farrah and started thinking, this is the first celebrity that I remember dying that I REALLY felt something. Farrah was huge and although I didn’t know a lot about her, it made me really sad. And then Michael, I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary eyed. I know that many celebrities have died in the past 22 years, but I just feel like this is the first round that I’ve been old enough and have had any connection with to feel anything for it.
And tonight on my way home, I realized my job has made this day bittersweet. As soon as I walked in today, we started talking about Farrah. Some people still hadn’t heard so we broke the news. Then we talked about Carrie Cline’s recent interview with Ryan O’Neal.
Just when things started to get calm, my News Director came out and told me to check TMZthat Michael had been transported to the hospital in cardiac arrest. I immediately opened it and put it in my show. I kept clicking the refresh and nearly every time I did, there was an update. First it told us when the 911 call came in, then said he’s in really bad shape, then a message from his dad saying he wasn’t doing well. When I updated at 5:20, that’s when it hit “Michael Jackson Dies.” I remember yelling it and immediately calling the 5pm producer and telling him. At that time, no one else was reporting his death, but TMZ is a show on myZ and yes, it’s not CNN, NBC or FOX, but it’s one of the most credible entertainment sites out there. We immediately aired it, with credit to TMZ.
At that time, other stations were just starting to report that he was taken to the hospital and that he was in a coma. We got a number of nasty calls and comments on our web story because people said we were jumping the gun. It wasn’t until 6:25 that NBC officialy reported Michael’s death. If people don’t give TMZ credit, they should now. They had the information confirmed and reported an hour before the major media outlets picked it up.
The rest of the night was a blur. We were trying to find a national story about Michael’s life and death to run in the 10. We were also trying to find a live shot or two of California to pull up during our show. All the while, we had CNN (I think) cranked to hear their updates. We turned those down when the NBC special came on. It was all Michael and Farrah all the time.
Shortly after my News Director left tonight, he called me and told me that some websites were reporting that actor Jeff Goldblum fell from a cliff and died today while on set for a movie. Those rumors turned out to be false.
The reason I say today was bittersweet: The bitter is obvious. Farrah has been an icon for women for 40 years. She’s a woman I’ve admired for her beauty and she was just so down-to-earth everywhere she went. The last couple of years, I’ve really admired her for being a fighter. Michael Jackson has been a part of my life since I exited the womb. My mom told me today she considered Michael Jackson the Elvis of her era. So that may show you where I get my love for him. The bitter continues though with my job. Working in the news business, there’s no way to push the news aside. No matter if you want to hear more, you are going to.
But that also leads me to the sweet: I want to know news now. I don’t know if this is something you feel when you see the news, or if it’s just me being a news nerd. But when things happen, I want to be the first to know. The business I am in definitely fills that need. I can’t describe the feelings I had when I read the headline that Michael Jackson had died. But I can tell you that after an hour of us reporting it and having it up on our web page, it was a sigh of relief when everyone else picked it up. The more I write this, the more I feel like I am sounding insensitive. I am sorry if you take it that way. In every business, there is a goal for you to be number 1. In ours, it’s being first and being accurate. And despite all of the harsh comments about premature reporting, we did both of those tonight.
In any sense, Ed, Farrah and Michael will all be missed tremendously.
I am sure MANY websites now have full coverage of Michael Jackson’s death, but I encourage you to check out the TMZ site. They have 3 pages of posts, everything Michael. From pictures of his family, quotes from loved ones and the original post that we broke the news from.
I am not going to add the picture, but here is a link to the Entertainment Tonightsite. They have a picture taken from the ambulance as Michael was transported to the hospital. He has a breathing tube in his mouth and they are trying to resuscitate him. Very, very sad photo.
And finally, my favorite Michael song is “Man in the Mirror.” One of my fellow Tweeters sent me this link tonight. This is Chris Cendana. Born and raise in Beckley and a Marshall University Grad. Love it!