Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Too much Jacko? BBC defends coverage
BBC head of newsroom Mary Hockaday has on The Editors' blog defended the BBC's coverage of the death of Michael Jackson against accusations that there was too much of it.
She says: "By any lights, Michael Jackson was a huge figure internationally, and BBC News went into gear to report a big breaking news story.
"We've had a number of complaints about our coverage, the main charge being that we simply did too much: that his death didn't justify the prominence and scale of our reporting through Friday and into the weekend."
She adds: "It is clear that Michael Jackson meant different things to different generations, both among our audiences and among our own staff. There are some who had followed him as a boy star, but there's also a large number of younger people who never saw him perform at his height but are only too aware of the controversy about his personal life and his increasingly eccentric appearance and behaviour. There was also the expectation around his comeback concerts in London. Looking at media output around the world, it was clear that his death was provoking international shock and big audience consumption."
She argues that the figures show BBC viewers and online users were very interested in the Jackson story. "The audiences to our main television bulletins were a little higher than average for a Friday evening and the statistics for our online content broke records: more than 8.2m global unique users, the second highest since Obama's election. The BBC News mobile site had its biggest-ever figures on Friday.
"This was also a story which for which many users of the site wanted to access our video, particularly the live stream of the BBC News channel. Within the first hour, there were just under a million hits globally on the live streams of the News Channel and BBC World TV. Overall, a quarter of site users on Friday accessed audio or video (26%, compared to the daily average of 15%). There were over two million users of AV on the site on Friday, higher than the site's previous record (for Obama's election in November 2008)."
Hockaday concludes: "This was a big news story - about the death of a big cultural icon - all around the world."