Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group, is circulating a petition asking that advertisers pull support from TMZ until the gossip outlet agrees to consult with Black families before reporting on celebrity deaths.
The petition was started last month after NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash and TMZ reported the news before police could inform Bryant’s family of the tragedy. The petition was further updated yesterday after rapper Pop Smoke, whose birth name was Bashar Barakah Jackson, was slain and TMZ again reported the news before his family learned of his death.
“Once again, in a rush to break the news, TMZ disregarded the effects its rush news reporting has on surviving family members or fans of the deceased— even releasing footage of paramedics working to resuscitate the 20-year old rapper,” the petition states. “TMZ has used Black celebrity deaths as a driver for website clicks and profit far too long. TMZ’s lack of journalistic integrity should have consequences.”
Color of Change, which has been around since 2005, first slammed the media outlet for its handling of Bryant’s death.
“Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a horrific helicopter crash, and TMZ LEAKED the news before the authorities were even able to notify the family,” the initial petition reads. “That means that Vanessa Bryant found out about the death of her husband and child through TMZ, tweets, or comments.”
The petition added, “IT’S TIME FOR FOX TO CANCEL TMZ AFTER WHAT THEY DID TO KOBE BRYANT’S FAMILY.” It goes on to say TMZ’s actions were “beyond not ok” and hopes to “get TMZ taken down once and for all,” according to ABC’s WHAM 13.
Last month, the petition had garnered more than 100,000 signatures. It is unclear how many signatures the petition has secured to date after Pop Smoke’s death.