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With Easter Sunday in our rear-view mirror, now is the time to reflect on what I am calling Easter March Media Madness — The Agony, The Ecstasy and The Absurd.
Let’s first chronicle the absurd, and in this category are two entries of national and international prominence.
First up is Google with its iconic, “Google Doodle.”
If you are not familiar with the Google Doodle this is Google’s icon that tops their main search page. The Doodle graphically depicts holidays, seasons, events, or just plain fun designs. Daily it is seen globally by hundreds of millions of users as they do that thing they do on Google.
But on Easter Sunday, a holiday celebrated by over a billion people around the world, the Google Doodle had an image of someone I did not recognize, but later discovered it was farm labor leader, Cesar Chavez. As it turned out Easter Sunday would have been his 86th birthday. (He died in 1993.)
However, as Easter morning turned into afternoon, a tsunami of controversy began to swirl across the media universe, even in mainstream media.
A Google spokesperson told the Washington Post on Easter Sunday:
We enjoy celebrating holidays at Google but, as you may imagine, it’s difficult for us to choose which events to highlight on our site. Sometimes for a given date, we feature an historical event or influential figure that we haven’t in the past.
A friend of mine who works for Google responded this way to a personal outrage email I sent him:
The man (Chavez) was a devout Christian. It is utter nonsense that anyone is upset. Google does Doodles for unique and always different dates of historical significance.
Ultimately, will Google “dissing” Easter turn out to be a “Bing” deal or what? Only time will tell how much backlash Google will receive and drive users to rising competitor Bing, which displayed Easter eggs on its home page.
The absurd category continues with the New York Times and my favorite example of Easter Day “media madness.”
In an Easter piece with the headline, Pope Calls for “Peace in All the World” in First Easter Message the NYT was forced to issue a correction. Bryan Preston, in a PJ Tatler piece asked in his headline, Best NYT Correction Ever? My answer is, “Yes, definitely.”
For if you click on the Pope piece you will see this message at the bottom:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: April 1, 2013
An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Christian holiday of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, not his resurrection into heaven.
Those who believe in Christ’s resurrection from the dead, can now rejoice that the NYT has learned the meaning of the “Christian holiday of Easter.” Is this God’s wrath on the New York Times? To make matters even worse, this correction was headlined on the Drudge Report. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there when this “mischaracterization” first hit the newsroom? No doubt, some editor was throwing chocolate Easter eggs at someone.
Now let’s explore Easter March Media Madness — the ecstasy.
As Google ignored Easter and the NYT learned its meaning, 11.7 million people watched the final two-hour episode of the hit series, The Bible on The History Channel. From Deadline Hollywood:
History’s Mark Burnett-produced The Bible ended on Easter Sunday with 11.7 million viewers. That was up 14% from the 10.3 million who watched last week’s penultimate episode of the 10-part miniseries. However, it is down from the series’ debut, when The Bible premiered with a two-hour episode March 3 with 13.1 million viewers.
The Bible, a five-part, 10-hour miniseries on History Channel has become the biggest cable television hit of the year. Not bad for a show based on a book nearly 2000 years old, with portions even older than that!
The second ecstasy of Easter was the non-stop mainstream media coverage paid to the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud is what millions believe is the burial cloth of Jesus and this new study dates it back to the time of Jesus. Shroud coverage was virtually unavoidable, showering more attention on the tortured and crucified “mysterious man” whose imprint appears on the Shroud.
Finally, here is the agony of Easter.
On Sunday evening, as those 11.7 million people watched Christ being nailed to a wooden cross on The Bible series, there was a real-time agony played out on another piece of wood.
During the NCAA Basketball Tournament, Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered a horrible lower right leg injury in the game against Duke. The agony displayed by Ware was so heart wrenching to watch that CBS Sportsbanned replays of the injury. The Boston Herald reports:
The chairman of CBS Sports had no regrets about banning further replays of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s gruesome broken leg and says if anyone wants to watch it on the Internet, that’s fine with him.
There you have it, all nicely rolled into Easter March Media Madness — The Agony, The Ecstasy and The Absurd.
Next Easter, will the Google Doodle commemorate Kevin Ware’s injury with basketballs in the Doodle’s two O’s?