Over the next few days, I think we’ll see a lot of people claiming that “old media” is irrelevant because it took over half an hour for them to confirm Michael Jackson’s death after it was posted on TMZ. These people are wrong.
The fact that Twitter was filled with tweets like this:
no one other than TMZ is claiming to have evidence that he’s dead. so either they’ve got a source no one else does, or… something. 42 minutes ago from web Bill Palmer
Goes to show how much credibility TMZ has. The public on Twitter, and I’ll wager the public at large, have learned to approach early breaking stories from non-established brands with skepticism. TMZ is well known, yes, but it’s not well known for careful fact-checking.
If anything, what this incident proves is that credibility is a very valuable quality. TMZ bet on the accuracy of their story, and they won that bet. Why make the bet? They want to earn a reputation for credibility.
And you know what “old media” has in droves right now? Credibility. Michael Jackson wasn’t, as far as I could tell, widely considered dead until the LA Times independently reported that doctors had pronounced him dead.
It’s not true until I say it’s true. That’s power.
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