TMZ (website) - Criticism

Criticism

Since the launch of TMZ.com, the website has faced criticism, varying from attempted boycotts to criticism of its journalism tactics to its website's focus. The TMZ website has been criticized for its usage of photographs and videos obtained from paparazzi. Some have questioned the effect that aggressive and obtrusive photographers have on the subjects they cover. Many of their videos on the site show, in the footage, that their paparazzi chase people (mainly celebrities)—a practice that has been called dangerous and "creepy". Over the years, some have called for a boycott of TMZ.com and the accompanying show. Thane Burnett, of the Toronto Sun, criticized TMZ.com's content as being more of a gossip site, rather than reporting on newsworthy items, stating: "Instead, on the TMZ site you'll find images of a favourite male celebrity peeing into bushes."

TMZ.com faced strong criticism for purchasing stolen items pertaining to the fourth Indiana Jones film; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. On October 2, 2007, IESB reported that a number of production photos and sensitive documents pertaining to the production budget had been stolen from Steven Spielberg's production office. Movie City News, which strongly criticized TMZ for purchasing stolen items, remarked that the then-new website "wasn't getting off to a good start". According to IESB, TMZ.com had obtained some of the stolen property and was planning on running a story about the topic on their TV show, until the film's production company, Paramount Pictures, lawyers intervened. Shortly after IESB broke the story, TMZ broadcasted details about the Indiana Jones production budget on TMZ on TV on the October 3, 2007.

Tony Manfred of The Cornell Daily Sun strongly criticized TMZ.com in an article entitled "I Want My TMZ", in which Manfred criticizes various aspects of TMZ. Manfred described TMZ.com as being "a fusion of celebrity news blog and embarrassing video archive" and felt that the website had become "the poster child for the celebrity pseudo-news industry" and that the website has "distinct advantages" over "gossip magazines" because it can "show all the borderline pornographic clips that Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood can’t." Manfred also noted that he felt that the website was "balanced", remarking that: "And by balanced I mean they strike a perfect equilibrium between three distinct categories of trashy video clip. I’ll group these videos into the following categories: the 'Action Caused Either Entirely or More Than Partly By Alcohol,' the 'Celebrity Car Chase,' and the 'You’re Not Famous but You’re Near a Camera So Okay'".

Jennifer Metz and David Muir of ABC News acknowledged that TMZ.com has long been criticized for their "aggressive tactics, antagonizing stars with video cameras" and noted that those "encounters, capturing at times violent celebrity confrontations with photographers, receive hundreds of hits online, and critics ask if entertainment reporters are crossing the line." Metz and Muir also questioned whether TMZ.com's tactics 'go too far'.

Ken Sunshine, publicist for Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio, stated that his clients disliked the website because it has a tendency to always be negative towards celebrities when reporting on them. "I hate that they have anything to do with trying to put celebrities into the worst light possible and that they play the 'gotcha' game". The website has been harshly criticized for having a personality cult of figures such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton – celebrities who are known more as targets for paparazzi than for the work they do. In defense for TMZ's coverage, Levin said that certain celebrities are main subjects on the Web site because of their 'relevancy' and because their relevancy helps draw viewership to the Web site. Liz Kelly, of Washington Post, attacked both Levin and TMZ.com in an article, stating: "I know this is like spitting in the wind, but I have to say it: Harvey Levin, please stop it."

In what The Smoking Gun called "a colossal screw-up", TMZ.com published an "exclusive" picture on their Web site of a man purported to be John F. Kennedy on a ship with several naked women that could have "changed history" had it come out during his presidential campaign. Despite having a Photoshop expert proclaiming the picture as "authentic", the picture was later discovered to have not been of Kennedy at all. The photo was discovered to have been part of a Playboy photoshoot from November 1967, which was later confirmed by Playboy representatives.

On the week of January 16, 2013, Andre Lowe was killed outside of a nightclub in Hollywood. A nearby reporter from TMZ ended up filming the attack and it was posted to the website without permission of the family. The family of Lowe started a campaign on Change.org to have TMZ take down the video and article about him. On January 22, 2013, TMZ ended up taking the video down after over two dozen advertisers revoked ads for the website because of the campaign.

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