July 8th, 2009
09:43 AM ET

Covering the Jackson story: A personal reflection

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/07/paris.jackson/art.paris.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Paris Jackson, 11, is consoled by her uncle Marlon Jackson after delivering a tearful tribute to her father."]

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

It’s been a long couple of weeks since the moment we learned that Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. From the immediate “that can’t be true” thought, to the rush of “what can we confirm,” then to my job: “who can we get?” I feel like I’ve been in Ludacris speed (note Spaceballs reference here!) since June 25.

But as the night nine of my time in Los Angeles and night 13 of our coverage winds down, I am sure the magnitude of the past two weeks will hit me soon.

Yesterday's memorial was more reverent, more respectful, more thoughtful and more appealing than I even thought possible. I knew early on in the planning process who might have been attending and performing, but even knowing who was on the preliminary list did not diminish what was on stage. And although it’s no secret that Michael Jackson was a controversial figure, the bottom line was the man was a great entertainer. It’s also obvious that he touched so many lives throughout his short life.

I spoke to my six-year-old nephew, Jackson, after the memorial. The first thing he asked was if I got to talk to Kobe Bryant. I find that funny because, although my family is a sports loving family, I do not remember ever watching any part of a NBA game with any of them.

However, Jackson knows all of the players and the Lakers are his favorite team. I thought it was cute he was asking about Kobe. Then he asked a question that really hit me: Wasn’t Michael Jackson close to Papa’s (my father) age?

I never really thought of it in that way, but yes. And so my mom told him that yes, but Michael Jackson was younger. Jackson then said, 'yeah but the first number is the same in their ages.' As a child who lost his other grandfather just a few short weeks ago, I knew he was concerned about my father leaving this world sometime soon. I never really realized just how much a death can affect a child, and I know many were watching the coverage as well.

It got me thinking about Michael Jackson’s three children. They were just joys to watch from the stands as the memorial was going on. Paris was comforting Blanket, the youngest, quite a bit, and Prince appeared to be the strong young man throughout the service. He shook hands with everyone who came by the family after speaking and performing. At one point, his grandmother got up to hug someone who had just stepped off stage, and he went to escort her back to her seat. No matter how you felt about Michael Jackson, the man left three children behind who now have to deal with all of this attention surrounding his death.

Word will get out throughout the coming months about exactly how Jackson died, and much more speculation about possible criminal charges will come out, but yesterday there was virtually none of that. Yes, some speakers mentioned some of his past troubles, but I think the primary goal of the day was to celebrate his life. And being in the Staples Center was just that: a celebration.

A new story will pop up soon that the media will focus on, a new last minute trip will be scheduled in my world, and the day will become a distant memory. But it will always be a memory and I’m very glad I was able to contribute to CNN's coverage, as well as Anderson's reporting. And I don’t think anyone will forget where they were when they watched a beautiful little girl bravely walk up to the microphone, with her aunts, uncles and two brothers bravely standing behind her, as she proudly said “Daddy has been the greatest father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say that I love him so much”.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones • Michael Jackson
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Toni Harper

    Over 15 years ago I was at IHOPS on Hillside Ave in Jamaica,N.Y. Rev. Sharpton along with a man and woman was sitting behind me. The Rev. was using so much profanity, I lost respect for him and nothing he has said since then has ever caught my attention until yesterday when he addressed the children of Michael Jackson.

    As I morned with the Jackson Family and the nation; I also forgave Rev. Al Sharton for the remarks I overheard him make so long ago. Thank you Rev. Sharpton for yours words of power that broke shackles that can hinder the spirit. It's a blessing to be able to look in the mirror and know that you have made a change. May God Bless you and May God's Grace and Mercy be upon The Jackson Family during this very difficult time.

    July 8, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  2. Alexis Nunley

    I had CNN pulled up on my computer and even watched in the break rooms. I am still amazed that 1 person could bring a sense of unity and transcend race, language, and socioeconomic barriers as Michael Jackson. It seemed yesterday the world came together and was brought closer togother. Coworkers who in the past would barely nod an acknowledgement came together to watch the memorial and even share their Jackson stories. I wish there was some way to capture the feeling that the world felt yesterday- that common thread of unity. Mr. Cooper I enjoy your journalistic style that makes facts not just news but a story that is thought provoking. Thank you.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  3. marie -from N.Y.

    Isn't that something. When you don't get kudo's Anderson you make sure they disapeir from your blog. Wish the feeling of disdain left me as quick.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    Hi Kay

    It was a lovely memorial service. And no, I don't think I will ever forget watching Paris speak and hearing what she said. Her words and her tears made me realize that despite what the rest of us thought about him, there were 3 small children missing their father and facing what could be an uncertain future. It was absolutely unforgettable.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:40 pm |
  5. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    Hi Anderson, Kay
    I like to say thank your for coverage Live Memorial of Michael Jackson last night, it was really beautiful service, including Jackson families, I know he’s up the heaven right now. My heart goes to the Jackson families, My thoughts and prayers with his children. That was my favorite ” The Thriller” he was dancing so awesome on moonwalk! I will miss him so much, Rest in Peace. Thanks Anderson!!!

    July 8, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  6. Christina, windber, PA

    "The fatherless child thinks all things possible and nothing is safe. "

    It's a moving statement but very sad when you reflect on it. I hope you don't mind my posting it.

    I watched all the coverage yesterday, but I lost it totally when young Paris spoke of her daddy. She will miss him and I will pray for her that she can handle growing up without him. I hope the press leaves her alone.

    I also want to compliment Anderson on his reporting. You know when to comment and when to just let the story unfold.

    July 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  7. Diane

    Dear Anderson,

    I was watching your show last night during your interview with Larry King you were discussing the fact you both lost your fathers at an early age. I heard you say a quote and didn't have time to write it down but it started with "Fatherless sons"

    My son also lost his dad at age 9 and that quote really touched me.
    Can you please tell me the ending.

    Thank you,

    July 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  8. Powodzenia

    Hello, Anderson,

    I was thinking about the children of Michael Jackson yesterday, and I thought you might have a unique perspective on their current position considering you were a child of very prominent parents, with your mother having a vivid past in the memories of those of us "of a certain age." Your father's tragic death, your brother's suicide, and the notoriety of your lovely mother's trial in her childhood has been discussed many times. Being the last member of a four person family, with losses from suicide, cancer, and alcoholism, I understand those aspects of loss. Having those losses in the public eye must be all the more devastating.

    My questions are, considering what benefit you may bring to the Jackson children, how did your family history affect your childhood and how has that impacted your life since then?

    I know this is more personal than most comments, but you were in my thoughts and I wondered if any of these things brought your own past to mind.

    Be well, Anderson, and thank you for the outstanding work you do! Your perspective is always welcome!


    July 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  9. Marcy Sperling

    I too felt very moved by this memorial. I think it was very tastefully done and showed the world that Michael Jackson was very much loved by his family and friends just fo who he was a human being. HIs daughter at the end gave such a beautiful tribute to her dad..

    July 8, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  10. Geoff Garceau


    I watched Mr. Jackson's funeral yesterday and I noted as they were placing the coffin into the Hurst, that there was a person filming this. He was just behind family members. I was just wondering as AEG had control over the feed at staple center, are in a process in revelling a DVD on the last farwell of Mr. Jackson.


    July 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  11. Anthony Ching

    Anderson, very thoughtful story. The death of MIchael Jackson didn't hit me until I saw the casket–which made it real. The way the memorial was conducted was so dignified and loving. You felt the love in Staples Center while watching it on television. Simply,we were all watching (billion viewers worldwide) because we loved the entertainer and we care about his family.

    July 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  12. Melinda Moody

    "Im starting with the man in the mirror
    Im asking him to change his ways
    And no message could have
    Been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world
    A better place
    Take a look at yourself, and
    Then make a change"

    I hope that Michael can now see his reflection, that he did make the world a better place and that he was a beautiful person inside and out. He can look at that image and finally see himself in the image that he strived for.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  13. JG

    I was listening to a new report on CNN about the condition of Michael Jackson's skin, white, and thin etc. When I was in college I knew a girl who was white but perpetually very, very tan. This was before tanning beds, so quite a while back. When I inquired as to how she was always so tan, living in Minneapolis where it snows half the year, she told me that her father was a dermatologist and gave her a drug to modify her pigment to tan. If that could be done more than 20 years ago, obviously MJ's doctors would have access to a similar drug with a complete reverse affect, wouldn't they? I loved Michael Jackson and am just sick about his passing, heartsick for his kids and family too. But, I've always wondered why the media seems to find the lack of pigment in his skin so mysterious? If that girl in college could literally be deep tan year round thanks to her Dr. Dad. MJ could have found a similar treatment from his Dr. Honestly, I don't have an opinion about his choice of skin color, or nose size or any of that. He did what he wanted, and that is all right by me. I loved his music, and will miss him being in the world. God rest his soul.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  14. AnnMarie

    In my very youthful day in Jamaica, I can remember whenever it was that time on TV when Michael Jackson's videos (Thriller, Beat it and Billy Jean) would be aired, the streets would be completely empty. Since his death we have been reminiscing about him and how much his music meant to us.
    Now, I wonder how those gold-digging parasites feel? Those who latched on to him to swindle money out of him because they were just jealous and greedy and down right coniving thieves. I guess, it doesn't matter to them because they get what they want. I wonder if at their memorial people will have to lie about them to make up something just to say something about them. Haters need to leave Michael Jackson alone because he touched so many lives positively. What have some of you done to help someone lately?
    I loved that memorial service yesterday and I'm happy I got the chance to see it all. Thank you CNN!

    July 8, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
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