The media is sure making a frenzy over the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Just hours after her death, every major news channel had it covered. It seems every time one turned on the TV, there she was. But how does the public really feel about it? It was the death heard around the world. According to CNN.com, the 39-year-old former Playboy Playmate was found unconscious in her South Fla. hotel room on Feb. 8. A medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of Smith’s death, leaving room for more media exposure.
Whether it’s about her marriage to an 89-year-old Texas oil tycoon, the father of her newborn daughter or if she will be buried next to her son, the media’s got it covered. Hasn’t America heard enough?
People.com has something to say about Anna Nicole as well. They have dedicated an entire feature called “Everything you need to know about Anna Nicole Smith.” The page contains 90 news articles and 40 photos of the star along with an entire biography and a timeline of her life.
As for cable TV, on the Saturday following Anna Nicole’s death, the E! channel aired their two-hour special edition of “Anna Nicole Smith: The E! True Hollywood Story.”
According to msnbc.msn.com, hundreds of Anna Nicole pages are appearing on Facebook, full of gossip and emotion. YouTube has had thousands of hits on Anna Nicole videos, including fan-made tributes. Many fans say they were able to relate to the stars background and humble beginnings, which they find inspiring.
However, some opinions differ. Steve Adubato, MSNBC media analyst, wrote in his commentary, “To me it feels over the top. The coverage is what it is, and after the Anna Nicole story dies down, there will be another media obsession over a famous person whose outrageous behavior will fascinate the nation.” In fact, if you Google the name “Anna Nicole Smith,” you’ll get 25.6 million hits. Many of those are blogs expressing the public’s opinion about her life and death, some in a negative way. One message board on CNN.com read, “Who really cares? She had no real talent and existed in the limelight solely due to hype and overexposure. She had more opportunity than most of us will ever see and squandered it.”
According to the Pew Research Center, which conducts public opinion polling and analyzes news coverage, in the two days following Smith’s death (Feb. 8-9) nearly half of cable news focused on the story. Pew Research shows that the public acted negatively toward the immediate exposure. 61 percent feel that the Smith story received too much coverage, compared with just 8 percent who think it should have received more.
People need distractions and the media culture creates them, whether they are good or bad. However, it seems like most Americans think the press has gone overboard with covering the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Perhaps, this really is one of those instances where they’ve surpassed public demand.