Here's the sad truth - these stories are definitely newsworthy, at least to a point. While the public seems to think the coverage about Michael Jackson has been excessive, they clearly can't get enough of it. As for the Governors, they both seem to encourage more coverage, with Gov. Sanford continuing to grant interviews to AP and Gov. Palin threatening to sue everyone.
It's not as if these topics have been ignored in the online world, either. Statistics are harder to come by in this world, but per Nielsen's Blogpulse, it's clear to see that the "king of pop" was also the "king of posts" in blogs:
I also found this - apparently the story about Jackson's death broke first on a blog. but here's what the college kids are saying about that blog:
This is NOT a story that symbolizes new media’s shining greatness. In fact, they are hardly helping matters at all...I think the social media lessons learned here are twofold: first, the pace of integration between traditional corporate journalism and "new media" is increasing, and second, a popular blog that abandons true social media won't be popular for long.
So the story broke on TMZ, and many people followed it there and on PerezHilton.com. Who cares? Those two sites are part of the media establishment now anyway (whether the oldies like it or not)...
TMZ may not be the BIG media of yesteryear, but now, with its success, it has come to embody the same one-to-many media model we were raised on i.e. OLD not new.