The passing of the self-proclaimed “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, and perhaps the country's most odd, eccentric, and weird citizen, has sent shock waves across the world and throughout the media universe. The fact is that celebrity gossip driven outlet TMZ.com not only scooped every major media outlet, they reported the details of the story correct, which is a huge development.
TMZ started in 2005 as a website, and progressed to a TV show in 2007, but it was not until recently that it was considered to be a reliable news source. Owned by media giant Time-Warner, TMZ chief Harvey Levin’s team has trumped the entire media world on several occasions, most recent being the first news outlet to report major celebrity stories such as Heath Ledger’s death, Anna Nicole Smith’s death, Jett Travolta’s passing, and the well known Mel Gibson drunk-driving arrest.
Most important is the fact that throughout TMZ’s coverage of the Jackson passing it had the details totally correct, while several major news organizations, like the Los Angeles Times, reported incorrect details during the first 24 to 36 hours of this continuing story. I suggest that one reason is the fact that more and more media outlets have insufficient staff available to cover news across the world. News organizations from television, radio, cable, and newspapers have dramatically cut their staffs in the past year as a result of falling revenues and thus their coverage of all events has suffered accordingly.
Not long ago who would conceive that a website organization consisting of lowly paid young eager journalists would scoop the Big Guys? Where were the major television network news organizations? Where were the major newspaper reporters? Where was the legendary Associated Press? They were all beat again by the perceived non-journalistic, tabloid, lowly TMZ website.
However, this development also highlights the country’s appetite for sensational celebrity driven news at the expense of coverage of far more important stories that truly impact our daily lives. America’s worship of false idols is frightening, but a fact of life in the country today.
The big story here is that journalism has changed before our eyes. Your Commander sees that journalism and media coverage has turned toward a more sensational and emotionally charged, titillating direction. You would think that nothing of any national or international significance has occurred since Michael Jackson’s death, only tireless, unsupported speculations about Jackson’s death. Our 24 hour news channels need any type of easy content to endlessly report on, no matter how important, insignificant or sensational. It may take months or longer for the Jackson story to unfold and at that the truth may never be known. The media will be impatient, so supposition regarding “Wack-o Jack-o” will reign across the airwaves for weeks to come with little or no relationship to true or reliable facts.