Journalism

TMZ Sends Alert About a Britney Spears Bathroom Stop

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When the popular website TMZ sends a push alert about Britney Spears, they must immediately get a big response. At least, I hope they do!

I don’t consider myself a Britney Spears fan. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t dislike her at all. From the little I’ve heard about the long controversy over conservatorship, it sounds like she has faced tremendous struggles in her life. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

But I don’t choose to follow every aspect of her life. In fact, there’s not really any celebrity whose life I follow to that degree. Some might not be able to relate to that; I suspect those people would fall into a class of folks much younger than I am.

Once you reach a certain age, I’d wager you get over such things.

Even though I’ve reached that age, apparently, I was not particularly surprised by a push alert from the TMZ app this week.

I have many news apps on my iPhone. But I work in news. So I like to see not only what’s happening but how different outlets prioritize certain stories.

I also glance at “push alerts,” those alerts outlets sent out to their app users about breaking news. Yes, the definition of breaking news these days is far different from what we might have considered “breaking” a decade ago. I think we all know that, whether we want to admit it or not.

Did you see the push alert?

As I scanned my phone’s home screen, taking a quick inventory of recent push alerts, or pushes, sent out, one from TMZ definitely caught my eye. In fact, I had to scroll back up to give it a second read.

The alert, which read, “Britney Spears Stops at Gas Station, Uses Restroom,” just sat there staring at me.

And? I wondered.

Was there more to it than that? I don’t know. I didn’t immediately tap the alert to read the story. I just stared at the alert itself.

Perhaps there was something significant in the fact that this well-known celebrity had to make a restroom pit stop. I don’t know why that would be the case. After all, we all have to go some time. Once in a while, we feel the urge when we’re not near a convenient restroom.

Regardless, when nature calls, nature calls.

Oddly enough, having just gone to TMZ’s site for the first time to see the article for myself, I find that TMZ made the same “nature calls” remark.

Great minds? Hmm.

Did something unusual happen during the restroom stop? Well, you can read the article for yourself to see what the big deal was. I note that they noted one detail about a piece of jewelry that might mean something…or not.

I also learned from the article that this is not her first brush with fate in terms of a gas station restroom visit.

She’s just like us!

Do I fault TMZ for the push?

Not at all. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a silly thing to alert people about. (It’s silly in the small scheme of things, too.)

But let’s face it: The people who are following TMZ are probably not looking for the latest news about COVID-19, or the economy or other more “legitimate” news.

Therein lies the problem: the definition of what makes news “legitimate” news varies from person to person.

TMZ surely knows its audience. Judging from the amount of celebrity news you can find on the site, its audience clearly prioritizes celebrity news. That would have to be especially true if they’ve taken the extra step of downloading the app and allowing push alerts. That segment of the audience clearly wants to be alerted to what TMZ considers important.

Those who choose not to turn off their notifications from that app after this particular alert send a clear message: they’re interested…even if some of the rest of us scratch our heads with such a push.

TMZ, incidentally, stands for “thirty-mile zone,” a term from the 1960s to define the area around Hollywood as location shooting became more prevalent. It’s a not-so-subtle sign that TMZ the outlet focuses on entertainment news.

While TMZ covers a variety of stories, some having nothing to do with celebrities or entertainment, it knows its priorities. It knows its audience.

You can wonder why anyone would care about a celebrity’s bathroom break. But you can assume TMZ knows that people will be quick to click if they send that alert.

You have to decide for yourself what that says about our priorities these days.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.