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Posted at 3:50 PM ET, 06/25/2010

The anniversary of Michael Jackson's death: not much of a trending topic?

By Jen Chaney

It's the anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson. And while the somber significance of the date is undoubtedly a major topic of conversation among the singer's ardent fans (see video below), it doesn't seem to be an overwhelmingly popular one on the Internet.

Based on the topics currently trending on Google, Yahoo and Twitter -- the modern measuring stick for what's being discussed around America's proverbial water cooler -- Jackson's death is taking a backseat to other matters, like the World Cup, Wimbledon and what critics think about the new Adam Sandler movie, "Grown Ups."

As of roughly 3 p.m., the only Jackson-related term on Google's list of hot searches was "When did Michael Jackson die?," at No. 18, which, it should be noted, ranked two notches below another celebrity-death related term: Farrah Fawcett. (Remember, she also passed away a year ago, on this same date.)

The hashtag #ripmj had bubbled up as both a U.S. and worldwide trend in Twitter's top 10 buzziest topics by mid-afternoon. Meanwhile, "Micheal Jackson" was generating Tweets in New York and L.A, apparently from a lot of people who don't know how to spell the late King of Pop's name. Overall, though, World Cup terms were definitely dominating the Twitterverse. On Yahoo, nothing MJ-related was in the trending topic top 10.

Obviously, these are just online metrics and don't necessarily tell all, or even part, of the story of what people may be feeling about Jackson's death. But given all the media coverage -- and yes, we at The Washington Post have certainly contributed our share -- one would think "Thriller," and all its variations, would have owned the online scene today. Maybe things will change as people ramp up their Tweets and online chatter on Friday night.

A few celebrities did weigh in with some thoughts of remembrance on Twitter, all posted in a heartfelt 140 characters or less.

Mariah Carey: Watching "You are not alone"..Love and Prayers to MJ "King of Pop". You will be remembered forever. We miss you.
Justin Bieber: 1 year ago 2day we lost the greatest entertainer that was and will ever be...Michael Jackson...he will be missed but never forgotten. RIP MJ
Michelle Williams: Rest in Peace....To The Greatest....There Will Never Be Another.....Michael Jackson!!
And, of course, the always reliable Gary Busey: And the whole world has to answer right now just to tell you once again...WHO'S DEAD!

Is Michael Jackson's death a conversation starter in your corner of the world? Or did the media anticipate more interest in this anniversary than we should have?

By Jen Chaney  | June 25, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Michael Jackson  
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Why does any of this matter??
It's not like this is a popularity contest. You people should be ashamed of yourselves for writing such a tasteless article.

Posted by: CupCake1985 | June 25, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Why does any of this matter??
It's not like this is a popularity contest. You people should be ashamed of yourselves for writing such a tasteless article.

Posted by: CupCake1985 | June 25, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

If you don't think that it matters, why did you not only read the story but comment on it? It's a blog about celebrities, nobody is a fan of everyone. Do what I do when the subject is any of the Twilight books or movies, roll your eyes at the headline and move on to someone you like.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | June 25, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

You seriously think that I read this "story"??
I only read the title. No, I don't expect you to be a fan, but I do think that you should have more respect than to post an article like this on the anniversary of his death.
I'm sorry if I came across as rude, I was just upset when I read, what I felt was, a disrespectful article.
I'm taking your advice though, and will "roll my eyes" and "move on to a story I like" when I see another article like this
in the future. <3

Posted by: CupCake1985 | June 25, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

You seriously think that I read this "story"??
I only read the title. No, I don't expect you to be a fan, but I do think that you should have more respect than to post an article like this on the anniversary of his death.
I'm sorry if I came across as rude, I was just upset when I read, what I felt was, a disrespectful article.
I'm taking your advice though, and will "roll my eyes" and "move on to a story I like" when I see another article like this
in the future. <3

Posted by: CupCake1985 | June 25, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

It has not escaped my attention that the
Washington Post has an inordinate number
of entries at this site the last couple
of days. It is also very clear that
innuendo and snide remarks are laced
throughout almost every one of them.

We are remembering and honoring a wonderful
artist, person and father today and I
would like to believe that a reputable
paper would be more responsible. I am
very tired of the attitudes expressed;
it is way past time to just stop.

People who chose to be positive and
thankful for Michael's life would
really appreciate respect for him and
his children and family.

Posted by: lmat | June 25, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I see the bats are out today . . .

Posted by: 7900rmc | June 25, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

WTF!? It doesn't matter whether it's a trendy topic or not. First of all this about life and death. How the hell do you compare life and death with f@@kin trendy topics. This is a trashy a$$ topic to even blog about, have some f@@kin respect for the dead already. Ya'll s!!t seems to always be tasteless.

Posted by: makenart | June 25, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

You all probably blog this just to get MJ fans to even take notice to your website. Media people will do anyhting for ratings. That's sad.

Posted by: makenart | June 25, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Elsewhere on this Wash Po site, Matt Schudel talks about having written MJ's obit a year ago, and says that Michael Jackson is a bigger story than ever. I have to wonder what motivates an article the point of which is to say that it's not as big a story as we think. Is that news worthy? Radio and tv are wall-to-wall MJ today and this evening.

Posted by: leedkh2 | June 26, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

@leedkh2 thank you for telling us about Matt Schudel I will search for this article. I am sick of despicable people like this. MJ has had tributes all over the world. Their radar must not go very far.

Posted by: symba45 | June 26, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Who cares? There's not one person in today's obits who wasn't infinitely more important than this creepy little weirdo. The world would do well to forget that he ever existed.

Posted by: Blurgle | June 26, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

People are getting really REALLY tired of this thing. That's why there is such a low interest in it. The drop in forums and chatroom traffic has reflected this for some time now as well. Even the most dedicated and loving fans are leaving the scene. The few who remain are largely fanatical and overly-obsessed ones who's entire life revolves around him. Its not because they don't care, they always cared. Its because Michael has chosen to stay in hiding and string this thing out for so long now and because many of them have been attacked and destroyed just as he was. As every day goes by, the resentment for doing this builds and people drop off. The family and friends have been dropping clues for the fans to hang in there but these fans don't have the millions of dollars and free time that the Jacksons do. They have lives to live, families to feed and jobs to hunt for. These are challenging economic times for "normal" people. They don't have the time, desire, patience or mood to play "games". I don't expect the Jacksons to understand this because they are not the ones who are feeling the financial pinch and they live in a completely different world than the majority of fans do. Their frame of reference is limited to the Hollywood environment in which they live. Over 1 BILLION dollars has been made since his death. The fans aren't dumb, they see this and they can also connect the dots and do the math. They know that they are the ones who have supplied this revenue too. So if he's really dead or gone into permanent retirement, then 'rest' in peace Michael and thanks for the wonderful memories. But please tell your family and friends to stay out of the media and stop dropping hints. The Jacksons, at a minimum, should at least have the courtesy to come out and address the death hoax believers directly and end their pain, agony and false hope. Undoubtedly they are aware of their existence. Unless, of course, that would damage their income stream? If not and there is an actual plan for his return, then GET THE HELL ON WITH IT! We could all use something to lift our spirits these days. The fans' batteries are almost dead, MJ. Not just you.

Posted by: GetOnWithIt7 | June 26, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

As we approach the one year annivesary of the reported death of the legendary Michael Jackson I am writing you to appeal to your sense of fairness and justice. For over 20 years, Mr. Jackson has been the victim of a systematic character assasination by the mass media and I am requested that his name be cleared. Just recently, the Huffingtonpost website presented an excellent article written by Mr. Charles Thomson, a british journalist, entitled 'One of the Most Shameful Episodes in Journalistic History". He details 'the sheer amount of propaganda, bias, distortion and misinformation" that the press presented during the 2005 trial of Mr. Jackson as being "almost beyond comprehension." It is beyond my understanding why, none of the other media outlets have picked up this story. Why is this investigative and thorough research by Mr. Thomson being purposely ignored? Is it so difficult for the powers that be to face the truth and admit that due to laziness and a total lack of journalistic integrity, they led the public to believe unfounded lies about Mr. Jackson? It is beyond disgusting to believe that increased audience ratings was the impetus to assasinate this gentle man's reputation. For years, the media maintained a relentless barrage of lies and distortions against him and with an unparralled uneveness and inequality unseen ever before against a single person. Was he so evil that there was nothing good to report about this man? On the contrary he was an earthbound angel and helped humankind immensely. Jackson donated his $1.5 million settlement from Pepsi, after he was severly burned during a commerical filming for the product to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, which now has a "Michael Jackson Burn Center" in honor of his donation. Over his lifetime he contributed a reported 300 million dollars to various charites, and since alot of his philanthropic was underreported the amount could actually be substantially higher. President Reagan presented him an award for his charitable work to help people with addiciton to drug and alchohol. All of his earnings from his Victory tour were donated to charity, his We are the World sold 30 million copies and all the money was donated to famine relief in Africa. While in Budapest in 1994, Michael and Lisa Marie became attached to Bela Farkas, a Hungarian boy in need of a Liver Transplant. Not only did Mr. Jackson agree to pay all the cost of the care needed, he actively pursued different leads to find the little boy the organ he so desperately needed for the transplant. He changed the lives of many destitute and hopeless children in hospitals all over the world, quietly and without fanfare. Yet these thing were severely undereported or buried. Why? Because as Mr. Jackson is so famous of saying,, "Good news doesn't sell". He was totally acquitted on all counts in the 2005 trial, because they was no substantiating proof to he outlandish counts againts him and the press was MUTE.

Posted by: budsgirl54 | June 26, 2010 2:05 AM | Report abuse

It is as it was when Michael Jackson died - although he had sold out fifty concerts in London and has a huge fan base all over the world (31 million albums sold since his death) - most fans, or people who simply recognize him as a unique talent, mourn alone and think of him alone. Not thousands and thousands were on the streets, and after the twitter broke down with the news of his passing, there hasn't been many venues to grieve together and mourn him.

So this non-empathetic article does indeed only tell "part of the story". What would be more appropriate, would be an article about how media treated Michael Jackson both in life and death, with the conclusion: We did wrong, and we ridiculed and belittled someone who did not deserve it. Because Michael Jackson's impact on people and on the music industry has been enormous.

Not even MTV, whom he helped launch and give a place, saw it necessary to dedicate the day to him. That was pathetic.

Posted by: asoders22 | June 26, 2010 2:06 AM | Report abuse

Thomson writes, "Media analyst Tim Rutten ...commented, "So what happened when Jackson was acquitted on all counts? Red faces? Second thoughts? A little soul-searching, perhaps? Maybe one expression of regret for the rush to judgment? Naw!" Why?

It is never too late to right a wrong. Mr. Jackson needs us to be his voice to repair his reputation that was relentless assualted with a seeming vindictiveness that is still unbelievably palpable. This good and sincere man's reputation was shredded and was continuously under a negatively slanted microscope that shaped an anti-MJ public opinion that is so virulent now, that he still is the butt of vicious attacks and jokes by the common man. I behoove you to read Mr. Thomson's complete article and educate yourself on what truly went on in the court room and realize that for the most part, what was reported to the public, was totally contrary to the reality, as most other things that occurred in Michael Jackson's life...

The Huffington Post has taken a bold step in bringing the truth to light concerning Mr. Jackson... perhaps you can take the baton and run with it. It is only fair to now report all the positive things about Mr. Jackson and restore his good name. It is not only right it is your responsiblitly.

Posted by: budsgirl54 | June 26, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

For more about the media coverage on Michael Jackson's molestation charges and trial, an article that should be a must for every journalist interested in jorunalism:

Posted by: asoders22 | June 26, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

It doesn’t dawn on many journalists, including apparently Chaney and Kelly, that media is responsible for Michael Jackson’s tarnished image. THEY tried to make a caricature of him. THEY put his career and reputation in domestic freefall by lying about him and not giving Mr. Jackson his due. (True Jackson admirers were not fooled.)

Even after being acquitted of all charges, Mr. Jackson never escaped the burden of those allegations in his lifetime. Media stripped him of his basic right of the presumption of innocence by CONSTANTLY referencing spurious charges of which he was acquitted.

No one in the media was talking about the long term psychological effects which befell Mr. Jackson as a result of the toxin of incredibly corrosive, vicious, monstrous headlines. That an otherwise honorable profession as journalism would act in concert to destroy a living, feeling, striving and contributing human being just to achieve ratings is abhorrent.

Media, especially filthy rags like The New York Post and dangerously unscrupulous mainstream journalists like Martin Bashir--to this day still employed by ABC News!--made nearly all of it up out of whole cloth. Why? Because wild hyperbole, gross exaggeration, manipulation of facts and outright lies sell newspapers! It was all abuse of freedom of the press granted by the First Amendment.

Human beings can be killed by other than physical attack. Media has blood on its hands. Bashir will one day face his Maker and answer for what he did to Mr. Jackson. On that day, it’ll suck to be Bashir, but all of journalism--mainstream and tabloid--should hang its head in shame.

Why bring this up five years later? Because Bashir and his producer, James Goldston, single-handedly caused multi-millions of people around the world to lose faith in journalism as the mainstay of democracy. The pain of such a media travesty is being experienced yet again all over the world on this, the first anniversary of Mr. Jackson's death.

Haven't you two checked your TV Guide? Wall to wall tributes for Mr. Jackson still. Yes, he's still relevant. No, your campaign of terror didn't work. He's still beloved. All. Over. The. World.

Posted by: SoCalGal2 | June 26, 2010 3:57 AM | Report abuse

what does it matter if the media isn't aligned. the maligned him most of his life. we love and miss him. i heard his music in Starbucks this morning, while i had him in my headset. we're all acknowledging and miss him. i watched the long version of ghost, and many other videos tonite. can't believe he's gone. so sweet and so beautiful. xoxxo mj

Posted by: loveumj | June 26, 2010 4:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm a little taken aback by some of the comments on this blog post. This article was meant to reflect my own surprise, frankly, that Jackson dialogue wasn't dominating the conversation on the Internet yesterday as much as I anticipated.

I was a fan of Jackson's, and was saddened by his death last year very much. But as a journalist, I also try to look objectively at how we respond to the story now. And the online metrics I talked about in the post were only, as I said, part of the story, but one I found interesting enough to point out.

I think Jackson's music is still very much relevant, and always will be. Maybe this is more a question of how we -- collectively, as a culture -- respond to the anniversary of a major death. Maybe more fans choose to reflect on it privately rather than by doing Google searches or discussing it on Twitter.

Posted by: Jen_Chaney | June 26, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The whole point of the comments by which you're taken aback, Cheney, is that journalism was NOT and remains NOT objective about Jackson.

If journalism was objective, they would issue one big "We're sorry!" for what y'all did to Jackson. The discussion boards where Jackson is a topic are alive with conversations about Jackson's one year anniversary.

Mainstream media simply does not get it.

Posted by: SoCalGal2 | June 26, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The media likes to print BS because it sells and the so called journalists continue to stay employed. Let me start by saying MJ please forgive me because see I was reading and believing in what the media was reporting. It took tor this man to die and the truth be told on how much of a humanitarian he was. The media is using his addiction to prescription medications as a scapegoat for the outright lies they have devised concerning MJ. People whom are addicts have mental and emotional issues stemming from trauma. When on these mind altering substances a person does not feel or think, the world around them becomes null and void. Escaping into their own world where they don't have to worry about being ridiculed. I know this because I was addicted to drugs for 25 years and have been clean amd drug free tor 10 years. So when the truth finally came out about MJ I truely understood his pain. So to all those journalist who intentionally misrepresented or straight out lied.about this man get some integrity and admitt your wrongs concerning MJ. Do you have children? Have some respect for his children, God forbid your child would become just as famous as MJ and have the same injustices done to him or her. What goes around comes around believe that!!!!!!

Posted by: leslieborrego | June 26, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy but it might be because people were not nearly as shocked by the 1st anniversary of his death as they were by his death itself. Do you think?

I am a great fan, but I didn't twitter or send email yesterday. Just listened to his songs and watched tributes on TV, watched "This Is It".

Posted by: TomJoy | June 26, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I thought a little more about this column today. I thought, "What would possess these writers to write such drivel on the first anniversary of the death of such an important person? Are they so lacking in imagination or creativity that they would actually spend time wondering why the anniversary wasn't 'trending' on Twitter?" It appears so.

This column illustrates how tone deaf members of the media are. As a group of people they are simply a bunch of heartless boobs. They make it up as they go along and then ascribe their mean spiritedness to "the public," as in "the public" never forgot about the allegations. What the...?! YOU, the media, never forgot about it, and reminded the public at every opportunity. Now you don't even have the decency to acknowledge what you did and say, "We're sorry."

I can honestly say I hate the media. They are ruining our world.

Posted by: SoCalGal2 | June 26, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

What this "journalist" fails to mention is on the day of MJ's actual death the cyber world came to a screeching halt, with servers crashing left and right from the sheer volume of people seeking info about this extraordinary person, Michael Jackson. In the immediate area of the hospital he was taken to cell phone towers were overloaded to the point people couldn't get through for hours.

This glaring oversight is what has blinded these "journalists" from the big picture. Why didn't the name Michael Jackson top Twitter and Google on the anniversary of his death? Simple, our warrior Michael Jackson is already gone and we the fans know nothing can bring his physical presence back. He will however live on forever in our minds and hearts.

We the fans started to seek each other out over a year ago to share our grief and pain, and being the proactive lot we are whenever it came to MJ made our plans to honour him and his family on this the one year anniversary long before it crossed the minds of non MJ fans. I myself sent a laminate watercolour painting I did to a group in California who were making a pilgrimage to Forrest Lawn and would be delivering items for people who couldn't make it in person. I found this group on Facebook in Sept/2009, long before your metric reading of Twitter or Google. MJ was a doer, it's one of the things we all admired in him. So in true MJ form people were out in force on June 25/2010, at countless locations honouring our fallen hero together, not sitting at their computers typing away in solitude. That's the way MJ would have wanted it.

It just goes to show how really out of touch the media is when is comes to human nature and how blind they are when events don't unfold in the manner they predicted or more accurately try and dictate. As others have said, didn't you see TV schedules for June 25/2010? Michael Jackson specials across the board! Didn't you see live coverage of all the fans at various locations honouring the life and times of The King of Pop? Believe me, THERE is your interest! And as to Thriller and all it's variations "owning" the online scene...I don't know about all the other true blue MJ fans but I've had my MJ collection long before he passed away, so there was absolutely no need to look now!

The media really do need to get a clue. Personally I've had about as much as I can take. I never bought into the tabloid rags so have never purchased one, but I'm at the point where I don't even buy the supposedly more reputable magazines now or watch most of the entertainment news channels anymore. It's all half truths at best, outright lies at worst and it's ALWALYS scandalous bad news that makes it to press above anything else. I don't want that! And I certainly don't want or need anyone to try and do my thinking for me. Give me some freakin credit! Just give me the damn facts, ALL of the facts mind you, and let me make up my own mind!

Posted by: ILuvUMoreMJ | June 27, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: obrien19 | June 27, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

These are the comments for the article mentioning Tom Cruise being all nuts and Scientology-y, right?

'Cause. Wow.

Check it out, though... Think about how high MJ would've been trending if all of those posts were chopped up into 140 character bits. With a nice little #MJ on the end.


Posted by: NotForYou1 | June 28, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me like the only people making a big deal is the media. No one I know actively discussed MJ. When I read the news, I paused for a moment and went "wow, I guess it is a year since MJ passed" but then went on with my daily life...and apparently most other people did too. After all, let's face it, people die every day. The world doesn't necessarily end simply because a celebrity dies.

Posted by: beachgirl61 | June 28, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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