As someone who is as disinterested in celebrity gossip as writers are interested in comics, I can’t help but watch the Web site (and syndicated TV show) Thirty Mile Zone, TMZ in awe about their amazing growth over the past few years.
TMZ.COM, ~6MVisits to ~15MVisits/Mo in 1 Yr.
People consistently love disasters, crime, nudity and negativity. I can’t blame the readers, because look at what’s being reported and the extreme bias that’s added in. I expect the snarky one-upping to be from independent bloggers, not from a professional Journalism team. Then again, look at who they are reporting.
Does this mean people are becoming less interested in (gasp!) financial responsibility or politics? Has Britney Spears had more impact on the country than Congress or OPEC? Are people more interested in celebrity antics as celeb-gossip sites lead us to believe? Do the stars themselves LOVE the attention their getting? Do we even care anymore? I don’t know, but page views are page views are page views.
TMZ has become a household name, like what’s that newspaper at grocery checkout counters the, the E… yeah, that’s it — the Enquirer. I think TMZ’s success has been likely due to their accessibility more than their content. Their name is catchy (it’s only three letters!) They can turn every story into an “exclusive” by merely throwing up captions in their industry-leading font and put up a photo frame and it’s sold. People are captured, sold, and they look again for more.
I’ve just turned on my local FOX affiliate, WTTG FOX-5, and I noticed TMZ on TV has made itself into two evening television appearances at 6:30 and 11:30 PM, dishing the same dirt as their Web site on the stars. The format irks me. The set is designed to appear as a hustling and bustling newsroom, but it just doesn’t grab me as much as their Web site does. Harvey Levin’s short questions and overly exerted facial expressions seem a little over the top for the actual news being discussed. Their staff seems to be just a little too interested in the small pieces of news (stalkerish) and every topic said gets written onto a Plexiglas board, yet I see no addition scribblings on the board.
I do have to say that despite my disgust in celebrity gossip, I enjoy their “who kissed who” segment where they show all the former relationships a celeb had in relation who they are allegedly going out with. This is probably the only real content that keeps me watching TMZ.
I find it amazing how they, TMZ, continue to ask rhetorical questions that can only be contrived from viewers, “Why doesn’t the paparazzi give the stars space?”Then they answer it justifying that celebrities shouldn’t be allowed to walk outside! That is the most circular-logic answer I’ve ever heard. Why don’t they just spill the truth, “You keep watching [and clicking] so we have to stalk the stars the second the walk out of their house.”
However, I do agree that celebrities should understand the kind of media power they yield and should leverage that and balance it with life and work. I find it interesting how the strongest of celebrity stars seem to have the weakest PR teams when it comes to celebrity news.
Back to my point — people thrive off of gossip and drama pertaining to the lives of others. TMZ is just the reporter. While they do spin certain stories, the spin is very clear to the reader, and it leaves them coming back for more. Maybe this is the secret to TMZ’s success; while being dually promoted by AOL when ever someone’s caught without undergarments, or is having an emotional breakdown.
Celebrities are human, too. They even troll Internet forums. Given ’em a break. What do you think? Is TMZ evil, or do they just do an excellent job at reporting to the masses on celebrity news?