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Like with Michael Jackson’s passing, TMZ may have been the first to break news on the death of Prince, but its respect among traditional news outlets is far from strong.

Examining the reason for the media’s hesitancy in attributing major celebrity-related news to TMZ, The Washington Post notes that it, along with outlets such as the New York Times, the Guardian and BBC, delayed it’s report on Prince’s passing until the Associated Press confirmed the death through the iconic entertainer’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure.

For the record, TMZ posted news of Prince’s death around 12:50 p.m. Eastern Time. The AP confirmed the tragedy 17 minutes later, with the other outlets following suit with referencing the AP’s dispatch from Chanhassen, Minn.

While TMZ “has been quite reliable on many major stories,” the Post acknowledges, “mainstream news sources are reluctant to rely on its say-so alone.”

“The news, in effect, doesn’t become news until another source matches TMZ’s reporting,” the Post stated as it went into reasons behind the distrust.

Those reasons include TMZ referring to “multiple sources” without naming a specific person. As a result, the tabloid site’s reporting is met with caution, despite its track record.

“It’s definitely a discussion in the newsroom as to whether to blast out something based on TMZ,” Sharon Waxman, the founder and editor in chief of entertainment site TheWrap, told the Post, adding, “I think TMZ has earned the right to be a single citable source on breaking news.”

Waxman’s comments run into a wall as The Wrap was among the outlets that waited until AP’s dispatch moved to post the news about Prince on Thursday. According to the Post, it was Waxman’s deputies, who were running the newsroom at the time, who decided to rely on the AP’s confirmation.

Nevertheless, Waxman admitted that she was comfortable with the delay, even though it may have cost The Wrap getting the scoop on the competition by a few minutes. “The discussion we’ve had about TMZ is that they’re right about 90 percent of the time,” she said. “We’d prefer 99 percent-plus, if we can’t break the news ourselves.”

At the heart of doubts from traditional media is TMZ’s tabloid reputation and nature as well as its confession about paying sources for information, a practice that is considered a breach of traditional newsroom ethics.

Major scoops TMZ broke with the help of paid sources include security camera footage of football star Ray Rice beating his then-fiancée in 2014 as well as police records of Mel Gibson’s drunk-driving arrest and anti-Semitic rant in 2006 and the death of Michael Jackson in 2009 and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racists remarks in a phone call to his mistress in 2013. The sources for those stories collected five-figure fees to disclose sensitive and legally-protected details to TMZ, which further fans the flames of distrust with rarely revealing its sources, paid or otherwise.

“TMZ founder Harvey Levin previously dismissed such concerns, saying that many celebrity-oriented publications pay for information and that a piece of video or a phone recording supplied by a paid source is no less truthful than a recording leaked by someone who wasn’t paid,” the Post mentioned.

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11 thoughts on “Is TMZ Now A Trusted Traditional Media Source?

  1. Your Black America web is no better so stop the bullchit !!!

    Its like the pot calling the kettle black !!! Take several seats daily tear down people of color …then sell it back like you care. By using a name like black America web…….well lets see who you really are.

  2. I know it was news and everybody wanted to be first to report it but damn – couldn’t they let the family be notified first? How would you like to hear a family member died plastered all over the news like that? No filters. No respect for the deceased or family.

  3. Linda on said:

    TMZ is nothing but a cheap tabloid like those you see while standing at the checkout counter in the supermarkets!!!!!

    TMZ peddles SLEAZE. So what, if they got the news regarding Prince’s death right!!!!!!!!

  4. Amber on said:

    TMZ maybe right about a few things or even to know that Prince died from an overdose but still over all they are gossip just like Inside Edition, National Enquire, Star Magazine, etc. Even a thief is honest every now and then but you still do not leave your stuff open to a thief person who steals alot. I am still waiting on the FACTS.

  5. Oh! I’d say their more accurate and certainly more trusted than MisleadNBC
    besides you now have people who get their news and information from The daily Show

  6. Timekeeper on said:

    A trusted news source? Never! Unless you like news coming from peepholes, hidden cameas, and hiidng in peoples basements. TMZ is what the Enquiere used to be. The absolute Scum of the media industry.

    • Amber on said:

      The National Enquire still is trash over all. Do not confuse getting one or two stories correct as being they are 100% correct and truthful. Even a liar tells the truth once in a while.

  7. specialt757 on said:

    It’s unethical to pay for news stories such as what TMZ does (I still haven’t figured out how they make their money). People know right off TMZ will pay mega dollars to be the first and so they go to them first. I had a friend tell me the other day, if they had news about a crime, ANY crime, before they gave it to a news media outlet, NBC, ABC, etc…they would make them pay money for it. TMZ and other trashy tabloids are part of the reason for video taping EVERYTHING. This is not great, it’s just created the new norm of insensitive, non-caring, and selfish people.

    • Amber on said:

      I agree but see we as a society help to create these gossip chasers. I always take what these kind of network and gossip tv show said with a grain of salt even if it turns out to be true sometimes and I do mean SOMETIME. Also, when TMZ degraded other celebs, many folks cheered them on and believed their nonsense, and now that Prince is the subject, some of the same folks want to degrade TMZ that I know. See, this is why we can not go along with nonsense when it involves someone else. In time, those same snakes like TMZ is going to come after your favorite person.

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