It was the Chief Executive of Multimedia Broadcasting (parent company of JOY FM) who called to tell me about the breaking news on Sky News.
“They say Michael Jackson had suffered a heart attack,” KT said.
I tuned to Sky News immediately.
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They were showing pictures from the hospital to which he had been taken. I turned the channel to CNN. They were showing ‘World Sport’. Then I went to BBC World. They were showing a documentary on potatoes. I quickly switched back to Sky News. They quoted TMZ (an internet news website popular for Hollywood gossip) as reporting that the ‘King of Pop’ had died!
Then I switched back to CNN. Wolf Blitzer was reporting that Michael Jackson had fallen into a coma. I went back to BBC and they were reporting that Michael Jackson had been rushed to hospital with suspected cardiac arrest.
As a newsman, I found the coverage of unfolding situation by the three networks quite intriguing. One of them, Sky News, had concluded that Michael Jackson was dead and they had lined up several people who were speaking about Michael Jackson in the past tense.
The two others – CNN and BBC – were more cautious. CNN reported the superstar dead about an hour-and-a-half after Sky News and even then they were quoting the Los Angeles Times and NBC.
“CNN cannot confirm this,” Wolf Blitzer kept saying.
I realized that CNN was trying hard to play it safe. They stopped mentioning the LA Times only after they had spoken to a surgeon at the UCLA Hospital, where Jackson was pronounced dead.
The quest to be the first to break the news and get it right the first time is the dilemma of every journalist. One false announcement and your reputation will suffer a dent, which might be difficult to fix. In the end, Sky News took the risk and got it right, leaving CNN and BBC biting the dust. The guys at Sky New must be very happy with this but like millions around the world, I am sure, they might have been surprised and shocked to see Michael Jackson go this way.
He was the self-proclaimed “King of Pop”. This is not how kings die, is it? King’s are supposed to die valiantly in battle or peacefully in their sleep – usually after prolonged illness. There was nothing valiant or peaceful about how Michael Jackson died. That’s the sad part.
On the other hand, however, I can’t help but feel happy for him. I think that for his troubled soul, death must have come as a blessing. I believe he’s gone to a better place and he’s found the solace he never had on this planet. He must be very happy that the tragic contradiction that was his life has come to an end – albeit in such an abrupt manner.
As a child, I adored Michael Jackson. I bought a lot of Michael Jackson ‘choongam’ (chewing gum) photos. I had two of my favourite Michael Jackson photos stuck on the inside of the lid of the ‘trunk’ I used in secondary school – along with a sticker which read: “Oh Lord, help me hang in there”.
Sadly, years before his death, I just couldn’t bear to look at him anymore. The handsome black chap on whose pictures I spent my hard-earned infant ‘income’, had turned himself into grotesque plastic white doll. He had become the whitest nigger on earth – and he looked barely alive. That, sadly, is one of the unsavoury ways Michael Jackson will be remembered – the genius who was born black and died white!
No doubt, he’d be remembered, first and foremost, as a fabulous entertainer. He was a musical legend. No musician will ever sell as many records as he did. And there will never be another like MJ.
The world does not need another Wacko Jacko enjoys tucking himself in bed with infants, under the pretext of sharing “love” with them. He was lucky to have escaped jail time for child molestation. But settlements he reached with all those little boys who lined up to accuse him of molestation – along with his profligate spending) took a heavy toll on his finances. As a result, a talented man who should have been one of the richest on the planet became submerged under a deep sea of debt.
Surely, the story of Michael Jackson should have ended on a happier note. The tragic contradiction that was his life and the manner of his passing (possibly abusing a cocktail prescription drugs) diminish his legend. But a legend he will forever be.