As the Sunday news cycle erupted with news of Brittany Murphy’s tragic death, I couldn’t help but notice a consistent mention in each story I read: celebrity condolences from Twitter. Not only were People, E! and other tabloid-esque media including this information, but The AP, The New York Times and other more traditional news outlets included Twitter mentions in their coverage of the actress, as they would a formal public statement.
CNN even posted a follow-up article discussing the social media frenzy the ensued following the announcement:
The topic “RIP Brittany Murphy” began trending on Twitter on Sunday evening, as millions included the phrase in their Twitter postings. Most fans simply wanted to share their feelings about Murphy, 32, and talk about their favorite movie roles. . . One Facebook page, “RIP Brittany Murphy,” had 2,000 members as of Monday morning with fans posting their shock about the “Clueless” actress’ death on the page’s wall.
While recent deaths including Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson resulted in similar trending topics on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, this was the first time that “hard-hitting” news sources substituted interviews for tweets—and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
Whereas more traditional means of getting public statements from friends and family of the deceased would have travelled through a conduit of publicists, lawyers and agents, the commentary tweeted directly by Kutcher and others appeared to be heart-felt and genuine. In my humble opinion, I find that “from the horse’s mouth” commentary to be a refreshing addition to the news cycle, especially in reports of loss and tragedy.