As I was finishing my blog post about Tommy Jordan Saturday, a bit of breaking news began to blip onto my screen. A few gossip sites were claiming that Whitney Houston had died. Being the educated news consumer I am, I decided to start tracking the story to see if it really panned out or not. Sure enough, about a half hour later, the Associated Press released a statement, and I knew that the story was true.
Before the Associated Press story, just a trickle of websites were posting anything about her death, and none of them were well known names. Within a half hour of its release, the mainstream media began to pick up on it, the earliest merely re-posting the AP article and some of the later ones adding other rumored details or a review of her life.
When I checked back on the story Sunday morning, the story had exploded further, and the press had a lot more to see. She died in a hotel room, partially submerged in water in her bathtub. Her autopsy was in progress, but results from the toxicology report will not be released for another six to eight weeks. Xanax and alcohol together may have sedated her enough that she may have accidentally drowned herself.
For this analysis assignment, I would like to compare this Associated Press story released on the day of her death to this CNN article.
The lead for the AP story is as follows:
"Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48."
This is a somewhat dramatized version of a straightforward news lead that summarizes exactly what the rest of the story is to be about and revealed all of the news the press had so far, which is to say, not much. The lead started with Houston's name, since Houston was such a big star. Its description of Houston is also much more flowery than the description they would have given anyone else in the lead. The CNN lead, surprisingly, was less flowery although it lead into a much longer, in-depth story.
"Emotions were raw at the traditionally ebullient Grammy Awards show Sunday, with friends, colleagues and admirers expressing sadness about iconic singer Whitney Houston's sudden death."
This lead does not try to summarize all of what the rest of the article contains, since it covers everything from suspected cause of death to the Grammy show's coverage of her to others' reactions to her death.
The basic facts the reader received from the AP story were these: Whitney Houston, age 48, is dead; her publicist Kristin Foster confirmed this; she died on the eve of the Grammy's; what Quincy Jones had to say about her; and a short recap of her life, achievements, and who she influenced.
The CNN article really did advance the news in that it revealed that she died in a hotel, that the autopsy was complete but that the toxicology report would not come in for another six to eight weeks, that foul play was not suspected, how her death affected the first day of the Grammy Awards, that her 18-year-old daughter had been taken to the hospital "amid the outpouring of grief", and that her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, had appeared torn up by the news during his show Sunday evening.
Chronology of Media Coverage
- http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5im2K2XXLlbUkbTob5csuNcRdg- RQ?docId=0eddb019206a4ad19c15c120c2c17762
Immediately after AP confirms, mainstream media starts reposting/rehashing/making an obituary about the subject
Speculation about death
Stories about the mourning