Today, the New Yorker published its long-awaited (in media circles, at least) deep dive into how gossip juggernaut TMZ does business. There’s plenty of information to pick through, but the details of how TMZ obtained videos of Ray Rice’s assault on his wife Janay should be of particular interest to sports fans.
According to the New Yorker, the first video—the one showing Ray dragging an unconscious Janay out of an elevator at the Revel casino—came to TMZ from a hotel surveillance officer who used his phone to record it off of a security monitor. It was 4:30 a.m., and the officer immediately called TMZ and left a message, and that was that:
On February 19th, four days after the incident at the Revel, TMZ posted a fuzzy clip of Rice dragging Palmer’s limp body from the elevator. (According to a former TMZ photographer, the site paid fifteen thousand dollars. TMZ would not discuss payments, or other internal matters, but called this figure overblown.) The video, which went viral, had the phrase “TMZ SPORTS” embossed in the center—a branding practice known as “bugging.”
The New Yorker story doesn’t have many specifics on how TMZ obtained the second Rice video—the one showing Ray knocking Janay unconscious inside the elevator—but it does present a price tag. According to the New Yorker, TMZ paid “almost $90,000" for the second tape.
The lesson to be taken here is that money talks. Any gossip site worth its salt—like us! Hi! We pay for things! Let us know if you have something to sell!—understands that the best stories are often the ones you have to pay for.