Chapter 2. Speed versus Sloth: Dispatches from the Front

In Chapter 1 we saw how real-time public relations and marketing savvy allowed one man to run rings around a clumsy airline giant. In this chapter we look at further evidence that a real-time revolution is profoundly shifting the balance of power.

At 2:20 p.m. Pacific time on June 25, 2009, the entire world learned that Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Who flashes the news to a shocked world within minutes? Not the Los Angeles Times, not CBS News, not CNN or FOX.

TMZ, an upstart celebrity media news service, got the scoop on this sad tale, immediately posting the story on its web site. As the world learned of Jackson's demise, the now-iconic images of that ambulance featured in media worldwide—each time with the TMZ logo. A player in the news business with fewer than five years' experience, TMZ beat everyone, including local media outlets with many more reporters on the ground.

Why didn't a bigger, more established news outlet get that story first? Why was TMZ among the first to show the world Tiger Woods' damaged Cadillac Escalade? And why was it that TMZ broke the news of Britney Spears's breakup with Kevin Federline?

What's more, at a time when news outlets across America were shrinking dramatically, why was TMZ able to go from zero to $25 million in revenues between 2005 and 2008?


As media tied to rigid production cycles decline—morning papers, evening newscasts, and weekly newsmagazines—real-time ...

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