Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

-Megan Patrick-Vaughn can be reached at


I know some of you are probably oversaturated with coverage of the loss of music great Michael Jackson, but I, too, have some thoughts about it. His death last week, both shocking and sad, also highlighted an interesting class war in journalism, bringing up further debate about new forms of media, credibility and ethics.

TMZ, a guilty pleasure that many view as the National Enquirer of celebrity news, broke the news of Jackson’s death on June 25 and for more than an hour was the only outlet running with the news. Everyone had noticed the news, to be sure – it was plastered on Twitter accounts and Facebook status almost instantaneously – but it was only until the L.A. Times confirmed the death that the news hit other news sites.

Even a coworker, when I shouted out the news in the office, said, “Has anyone other than TMZ reported it?”

And even when the news was confirmed, some newspaper credited the L.A. Times with the scoop, leaving TMZ on the sidelines. Since the dawn of citizen reporting, the blogosphere and instant news, there have been questions about credibility – journalists are trained to seek out news, confirm it and report it fairly and accurately (that’s what we strive for, anyway), but who knows what qualifies Perez Hilton to report news and he’s got more readers than us all.

But TMZ got it right. Period. What changes do you think this signals or highlights for the industry?


Editor's note: We won't be publishing Just Business on Friday, July 3, due to the Fourth of July holiday. Have a safe and fabulous weekend!


Anonymous said...

you are giving TMZ too much credit. They were most concerned with getting it FIRST. They had a 50/50 shot at getting it right. Who knows? They MAY have verified, but let's not encourage their approach or hand them any level of credibility. It's still better to be right than be first. i think they got lucky this time (again...?).