Maybe I imagined this, but I could have sworn I heard a collective sigh of relief last week from the press, and especially the cablers, when it realized it wouldn't have to spend more time discussing health care reform (borrrring!) now that Michael Jackson had died.
As Jim Rutten at the Los Angeles Times noted, Jackson's death was huge news, and news consumers responded in record numbers:
When Jackson's death was first reported, traffic across the Internet spiked to virtually unprecedented levels. Google's search engine slowed to a crawl; Yahoo reported "one of the biggest things" in its history; social networks Twitter and Facebook nearly collapsed under the weight of traffic. This newspaper experienced 12 million page views at its website, apparently because it was widely credited with confirming the death.
The funny part is Rutten was complaining about the "serious" media's wall-to-wall Jackson coverage on Saturday. (Rutten thought it was excessive.) If anything, the coverage seems to have become more intense/monotonous since the weekend.
Behold CNN's primetime last night, four days after Jackson died. Since Jackson's passing, very little actual news had been uncovered (the official cause of death won't be known for weeks), but CNN devoted pretty much its entire night, starting with Lou Dobbs Tonight, to the Jackson story.
I realize that for TMZ and Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight (not to mention US and People), the Jackson passing requires all hands on deck. But I guess I'm not sure why on CNN the "Jackson" references have out-numbered "Honduras," which just experienced a traumatic military coup, nearly 10-to-1 over the last two days, according to TVeyes.com
UPDATED: From journalism.org: