It was one of those stories that just started as a bug: "Did you hear that Michael Jackson went to the hospital?"
"I heard from somewhere he was in a coma."
"Is he dead? I think he's dead."
"They're still reporting he's in a coma."
And then we got the confirmation: Michael Jackson, the man who brought the world "Billie Jean" and "Ben" and "Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal" and countless other massive hits in the '70s, '80s and '90s, had died at the age of 50. Once the story was confirmed, the newsroom exploded. Producers were running down the halls, digging for tapes of his music videos, interviews and VMA appearances. Everybody was frustrated that the interns had just gone home. News teams mobilized in Los Angeles. Our coverage of the "Brüno" premiere was canceled in favor of keeping more people focused on this story. Everybody settled in for a long night.
When a story like this breaks, it isn't just enough to cover it. We knew that we had to grab all the angles. Every rumor became a cause for action. We heard that people were gathering at the Apollo Theater, so we immediately sent a crew. We heard they were congregating at Jackson's rented home, and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (which, ironically, was blocked by the movie premiere).
What shocked me most was the way everybody immediately snapped to action. There was next to no hesitation in the newsroom, which is probably how we were able to grind out a steady stream of updates, reactions and memories as soon as Jackson's death was confirmed. That live show you saw on MTV? That was put together incredibly efficiently. At first it seemed daunting: Who could we possibly get to talk about Jackson with such little advance? And yet everybody called their contacts and the tributes poured in. Sheryl Crow. Snoop Dogg. Lil Wayne. Timbaland. Usher. Beyoncé. And on and on and on.
This is only the end of my third week as a member of the staff here, and this is my first big event to go down in the newsroom. As you might imagine, it's a pretty laid-back place full of creative people, but when push came to shove, everybody knew what the goals were. It's an impressive operation, and it'll keep moving until the story is completely told.
Follow the rest of the coverage of Michael Jackson at MTVNews.com