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Photos: Face of change

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  1. 1972

    Michael Jackson, 13, was the youngest member of the Jackson 5. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 1977

    Michael Jackson of the Jackson 5 during the 1977 American Music Awards. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 1980

    Michael Jackson won three American Music Awards in 1980. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 1984

    Michael Jackson is seen backstage at the 26th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 1984. (Reed Saxon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 1987

    Michael Jackson appears at the American Cinema Award gala on Jan. 9, 1987, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Bob Galbraith / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 1992

    Michael Jackson as seen in New York in 1992. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 1993

    Michael Jackson performs during a show at the National Stadium in Singapore during his 1993 "Dangerous" tour. (C.F. Tham / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 1995

    Michael Jackson smiles for cameras at the announcement of nominations for the 1995 MTV Video Awards in New York City on July 25, 1995. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 1998

    Michael Jackson gives an interview to the Associated Press in Detroit on July 8, 1998. (Richard Sheinwald1 / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 2000

    Michael Jackson arrives at the G & P Foundation for Cancer Research's Angel Ball on Nov. 30, 2000, in New York. (Suzanne Plunkett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 2001

    Michael Jackson arrives at the University of Oxford Union in Oxford, England, on March 6, 2001. (Alastair Grant / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 2002

    Michael Jackson appeared at Al Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of New York on July 9, 2002. (Tina Fineberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 2004

    Michael Jackson speaks at a news conference after his arraignment in his child molestation case at the Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse, on April 30, 2004. (Stephen Osman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. 2005

    Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County courthouse in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 27, 2005. (Michael A Mariant / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 2007

    Michael Jackson poses in Los Angeles on Nov. 8, 2007. (Danny Moloshok / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. 2009

    Michael Jackson at a press conference in London on March 5, 2009. (Joel Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. MICHAEL JACKSON
    AP
    Above: Slideshow (16) The face of change - Face of change
  2. Michael Jackson in a Butterfly Collar Shirt
    Henry Diltz / Corbis
    Slideshow (36) The face of change - Life and career
  3. 6th Annual RFK Tennis Tournament Party
    Ron Galella / WireImage
    Slideshow (13) The face of change - Famous friends
By The Scoop
msnbc.com
updated 7/1/2009 9:17:34 PM ET 2009-07-02T01:17:34

All of the weekly magazines that choose to commemorate Michael Jackson on their covers will be on stands one week after the “King of Pop’s” sudden death.

Look at them collectively, and you’ll find yourself in a gruesome game of “one of these things is not like the other.”

Time Magazine rushed to press to put an elegant tribute out; Newsweek eloquently navigated the decision to send a Jackson cover to newsstands, and its planned book cover to subscribers; and People magazine did its usual pitch-perfect memorial.

And then there is OK! magazine and the reprehensible decision to pay a reported $500,000 for the “last” picture of Jackson, which shows him lying on a stretcher, possibly already dead.

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OK!’s spokesperson Brian Strong says, “The cover represents an event in the history of an extremely entertaining and controversial figure and is sure to provoke some emotion and questions from readers and fans about the circumstances. The news often does.”

Provoke emotion and questions, indeed. I am angry that a) this photo exists and b) this magazine had the audacity to run it. As for questions, here’s one: How can this shameless bid for publicity (which is obviously working) be in any way justifiable?

Video: World continues to mourn As for the argument that the cover represents “an event in history,” yes, it does, but that’s not good enough. Every day, news organizations around the world make decisions about decency, respect and the best way to tell a story. It’s a responsibility that bears incredible weight, regardless of the perceived “weightiness” of the subject matter. Just because you have a photo — or have the dollars to throw at acquiring it — doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to run it.

The challenges in covering Jackson’s life and death become more textured by the day. But in my opinion, the question of running this photo at all, to say nothing of on the cover, was among the easiest. You just don’t do it.

The magazine answered the question as to why they ran the photo, but I have one more query before I put the subject to rest and stop giving OK! publicity for this: If the man on the stretcher was your son, brother, father or friend, would you have done the same thing?

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

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