Jackson death: How US celeb site TMZ owned the story

US celebrity gossip website TMZ was first past the post to break the story of Michael Jackson’s death yesterday.

The online entertainment magazine beat TV networks and national newspapers to get one of the biggest entertainment scoops in history.

TMZ broke the news of Jackson’s death at 2.44pm (western US time) – only 18 minutes after it occurred at 2.26pm.

The LA Times said today: “TMZ gave the most potent demonstration yet of its ability to stir the pot of entertainment news.”

Despite the gossip website’s lightning reaction, many media outlets waited for the news to be announced on the Los Angeles Times website at 2.51pm.

TMZ founder Harvey Levin told the paper: “That’s typical. No matter what they say, people know we broke the story. That’s how competitors handle it. There’s no issue about our credibility.”

TMZ – short for Thirty Mile Zone – a reference to the area of LA most thickly populated with celebrities, is a joint venture between Telepictures Productions, a division of Warner Brothers, and AOL Time Warner.

Recent scoops from the site include Natasha Richardson’s fatal skiing accident and pictures of pop star Rhianna after she was beaten up by boyfriend Chris Brown.

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