When it came to announcing the death of pop icon Michael Jackson, TMZ.com was not only first, it was right. As we waited for the Associated Press to carry word of Jackson’s fate, TMZ.com was the first to announce he had been rushed to the hospital, was in cardiac arrest and finally, that he had died.
During an interview with Shep Smith on Fox News Channel, a producer from TMZ.com talked about breaking the story. It came down to old-fashioned journalism. She explained the TMZ staff knew the city (Los Angeles) and heard the radio transmission about paramedics being called out. That’s all it took to get the staff in motion.
We had been monitoring all the traditional news sources, as well as hitting the refresh key over and over again on TMZ.com.
We started posting news alerts here on fox10tv.com, but as it came close to newstime at 5 p.m., we still didn’t have confirmation that Jackson had died. I chose to say there were conflicting reports about his health–that some sources were saying he was in cardiac arrest but that TMZ said he was dead. We kept updating the story throughout the newscast as additional information came in–first from the Los Angeles Times website and then finally at 5:27 from the AP:
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A person with knowledge of the situation says Michael Jackson has died.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
By then, though, it was old news, thanks to TMZ.com.