Reporting Michael Jackson’s death: a timeline
Following in the wake of the recent boom in demand for celebrity
gossip has been a trend of gossip sources breaking major news stories,
such as the death of pop icon Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009.
In much the
same way as former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards’
affair was revealed by the National Enquirer before it slowly made its
way to more traditional news sources, Jackson’s death was first reported,
then confirmed, on gossip website TMZ.com before the Los Angeles Times became the first traditional news source to confirm his death at 3:45p.m. Pacific time.
4:30 p.m. EST – TMZ.com
posts: "We’ve just learned Michael Jackson was taken by ambulance to a
hospital in Los Angeles … and we’re told it was cardiac arrest and
that paramedics administered CPR in the ambulance … and it’s looking
bad. He was picked up at his home around 20 minutes ago (4:10 p.m. EST) — we’re told his mother is on the way to visit him."
The story was frequently updated with details about the timing of the 9-11 call, as well as a picture believed to be that of Jackson arriving at hospital via ambulance.
5:06 p.m. EST - The Los Angeles times posts a brief story reporting that Jackson had
been taken to hospital. Around this time, TMZ had already spoken to
members of Jackson’s family, including his father, Joe Jackson, who
told them "he is not doing well."
5:20 p.m. EST – TMZ
reports on its website that Michael Jackson was dead at 50, reporting
that sources told them Jackson was dead when paramedics arrived at his
home, and that the scene at the hospital was "absolute chaos" when Jackson arrived, with people screaming "you’ve got to save him!"
6:15 p.m. EST -
The Los Angeles times updates its online edition to announce that the
singer was pronounced dead at the UCLA Medical Centre. Fifteen minutes
later, TMZ had spoken to a grief-stricken Tito Jackson who told the website he had regrets about not having spoken to his brother "in a while."
6:30 p.m. EST - TMZ posts a photo of mother Katherine Jackson arriving at the hospital.
7:49 p.m. EST – The
Los Angeles Times posts a news story about Jackson’s death that
contains quotes from people gathered outside the hospital, none of whom
were members of the singer’s direct family.