TMZ breaks news Michael Jackson is dead; does that also spell the death of traditional media showbiz coverage?
It's now confirmed that the celebrity Web site TMZ managed the scoop of a lifetime, breaking news an hour before anyone that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was dead.
Loads of mainstream news outlets, from the St. Petersburg Times to CNN and MSNBC were forced to note the site's reporting in their continuous coverage -- initiated when news broke that paramedics had found the pop singer in a rented home, not breathing and in cardiac arrest.
In the world of instant Twitter feeds and constant Facebook messages, the news outlet most willing to run with a big story will get the big prize -- lots of initial hits and a spread of its brand across a worldwide network of news platforms unwilling or unable to make the same call.
As CNN explained for long hours, Jackson was reportedly found in cardiac arrest in his home earlier today, and someone suffering from a stopped heart -- which is what cardiac arrest means, not a heart attack -- must be attended to within minutes or they are never revived.
Initially, most established news outlets only said Jackson suffered cardiac arrest in his home and was rushed to the hospital -- that sterling news outlet OK! magazine joined TMZ in saying Jackson was dead about 40 minutes after their initial post.
The Los Angeles Times, the traditional news outlet leading reporting on Jackson's crisis, first quoted firefighters saying the 50-year-old singer was not breathing when paramedics came to his home in California just after noon Pacific time, later reporting he was in a coma at UCLA's hospital.
About an hour after TMZ's initial report, they confirmed his death. CNN didn't confirm his death until two hours later.
And as the microblogging service Twitter exploded with updates from radio personality Ryan Seacrest (he confirmed death before LAT or CNN) the Los Angeles Times and countless fans, Twitter accounts for CNN Breaking News, CNN.com and CNN Top Stories went an hour without updating, with some still reporting Jackson was in a coma.
It's also possible TMZ and OK! were just playing the odds, assuming that Jackson was likely dead because his condition was so serious.
But the scoop provides also another strong argument for the usefulness of reliable outlets which normally traffic in tales of public intoxication by celebrities.
It also raises yet another challenge for traditional news outlets, still scrambling to keep pace with a younger pop culture press moving quicker to break and advance the hottest showbusiness news .