TMZ is what it is, a bottom-feeding gossip machine predicated on the shame and humiliation of others. So, no one expects it to be a source for wholesome, family-oriented news. Heck, no one expects it to be a source for news period. The website has revolutionized the gossip game by providing to-the-minute updates on stars’ whorish escapades and other celebrity dirt. But, recently, they posted an extremely graphic video of a 19 year-old South Los Angeles man, Andre Lowe, being shot to death. The online media source captured video of a brawl outside of a Hollywood nightclub, the Empire Club, on January 13th. The original video pictured a shooter, now suspected to be Robert Earl Thomas III, gunning down the young man in the middle of the street. They even showed him lying dead on the ground.
The video has since been edited down. Now, it shows a man holding a gun but cuts out before the crime actually occurs. That effort to placate questions about the integrity associated with showing a murder on the internet only came after over 200,000 supporters signed a petition put together by Jason Andrews, a man who claims to be Andre Lowe’s uncle.
Andrews’ petition, on Change.org, clearly requests that the video be taken down.
“TMZ has thoughtlessly and carelessly posted a video of my nephew, Andre Lowe, being shot to death outside a Hollywood nightclub. These people have no regard for the loved ones affected by this tragedy. I understand freedom of press but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Its very obvious that the media has no morals and nothing is off limits when it comes to gaining ratings. What they did is wrong and they need to be held accountable. No one wants to see their loved one in this position, having this event viewed by millions of strangers is disgusting. This video needs to be removed and an apology issued to the family and friends.”
Andrews explained that some of the deceased teen’s family members were unaware of his passing before the footage went up. He noted simply that his nephew’s murder was not “entertainment.” Therefore, it had no place on the site.
TMZ has remained relatively quiet regarding their reasons for leaving the video up. And, posting the edited version does show that the gossip source understands, at least slightly, the sensitive nature of the footage. But, there is no law saying that TMZ is required to take the video down all together. And, one could argue that they are well within their rights, since they captured the footage first-hand, to keep it streaming on a perpetual basis.
But, why do it in the first place? TMZ and other news sources appear to be spinning the decision to post the video as helpful to the police whom, they say, were able to make the arrest partly because people saw the footage and called with tips. Well, that’s all fine and good. But, the video was up just moments after it had happened. The family didn’t have time to grieve or even see the young man pronounced dead before his murder became an online sensation. Even celebs like Nick Cannon put their two cents in requesting that the footage be removed. And, at least 25 advertisers have abandoned the entertainment news source since the ordeal occurred. Yet, the video is still posted.
So, did they go too far? When is “total access” too much access?