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Jackson news traveled quickly

June 25, 2009 - Art Smith
The news of Michael Jackson’s death Thursday spread like wildfire around the planet.

In this day of instant communication it doesn’t take long for major stories to spread from source to consumer.  For many, learning the details of a big story come not from conventional media, but from networks of social networking sites, text messages and other non-centralized communication methods.

For those old enough to remember other music icons that have died before their time, the news likely came from reading it in a newspaper, seeing it on TV, or hearing it on the radio.

I heard about the death of Michael Jackson while visiting Cleveland Thursday.  My wife Lori was taking part in the Teaching Institute at the Rock in Roll Hall of Fame and I visited the museum all afternoon Thursday. Along with hundreds of other archives of rock legends, you can find a special collection of things that belonged to the king of pop.

Costumes from the Thriller video, the outfit he wore when he performed at the Grammy’s, and The Glove - the single sequined glove that he wore while performing.

Little did I know that within three hours the performer would be dead.

We found out he had heart failure from the posting of a friend on Facebook, the social networking site, a fact repeated over and over on the cable news shows over the next few hours.  We found out that he had actually died from another friend’s posting, and that fact was confirmed by a maintenance man in our hotel elevator who was sent a message via his wireless headset.

How we get information is evolving. Things are faster, but the fans’ reactions will likely be the same as it has been when other singer’s lives have abruptly ended. Music is an important benchmark of our lives and the people that perform it always seem to have a special place in our hearts. Fans will gather in groups, sing his songs and mourn the fact a little bit of their own past is gone.

It happen in New York when John Lennon was gunned down and it happen in Memphis when Elvis died of heart failure.

In this day of massive communications it will certainly be a little different though as people text, IM, post and blog about what was certainly a life that ended too soon.


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