Is TMZ changing reporting?

A young actress named Brittney Murphy died this weekend. Where did I learn about it first? The TMZ app on my iPhone. And it’s not the first time that app has given me the most current information and many times, is the first to tell me about it.

Regardless of what you think of their product, TMZ is a reporting force. They proved it again with the Tiger Woods story. They smelled something was up and kept digging. We now know they struck oil. Or several oil fields.

They dig up contracts, lawsuits, restraining orders, compromising photos. They know everyone involved and know how to find them when news is happening or as it’s happening.

Shoe leather. Sounds familiar.

This is not the first time that TMZ has been the leader in a big story.

Flash back to June and a lazy summer day when TMZ was the ONLY media outlet saying Michael Jackson was dead. There were several rounds of people on Twitter saying, “TMZ is the only one saying MJ is dead, if they’re wrong, ouch.” Well, as it turns out, they were right, they were first and they told the world the news.

After the MJ story kept going, the New York Times profiled the operation in a story. The article points out that TMZ has sources everywhere.

Sources. I’ve heard that term before.

They do pay for some things, photos, which all media outlets do, and will pay for tips, but stop at saying they don’t pay for stories.

From the New York Times:

Like many other media outlets, TMZ pays for photos. Harvey Levin, the site’s editor in chief, said in an interview that the site will pay “tip fees” that lead to stories, but not for stories outright. He refused to say whether he had paid any sources during the Jackson coverage but he denied that the site’s staffers paid police officials or nurses.

The upstart gossip blog is a gritty, some would say grimy, Web site that publishes celebrity news in real-time. It usually traffics in mug shots, rehab reports and other salacious tidbits about celebrities. TMZ first appeared in November 2005.

So I ask you, is TMZ a legitimate news organization to be modeled after? Or do you run away from it?

Tomorrow– TMZ is innovative when it comes to production of the show and gathering of information. So much so, it may put a few of us out of work.

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One thought on “Is TMZ changing reporting?

  1. Run far, far away… at least, that’s what the “journalist” side of me says. But TMZ has made a name for itself doing “journalism” this way, and if they’re making money, then they’re doing better than most places right now 🙂 If I remember correctly, when the news broke about M. Jackson’s death, other news outlets—having not yet confirmed it for themselves—kept repeating that “TMZ reports that Michael Jackson has died.” In my mind, it’s kind of a cop-out… they can still “report” the rumor, but if it turns out to be wrong, they’ll just blame TMZ.

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