Long before e-mail bulletins, tweets and Drudge Report siren headlines, there were alpha-numeric pagers and pay phones. As veteran east coast journalist Michael Lewittes recalls, these now antiquated devices played a key role in one of his earliest moments of reporter triumph.
“One night I was out to dinner and drinks with New York’s police commissioner and deputy commissioner,” Lewittes (pictured) tells FishbowlLA. “Across the pagers came the message that Tupac Shakur has been shot (not when he was murdered, but a previous shooting).”
“I got the scoop,” he continues. “I had to drop a quarter in a pay phone to call the desk at the New York Daily News. Just a few hours later, I was on the subway — en route to work — and the riders were reading the Daily News and our rivals, the New York Post. But only the Daily News had the Tupac exclusive that he had been shot outside of a recording studio on the West Side in New York. And it remained a Daily News exclusive all day long on the radio and news broadcasts.”
“Naturally, today that story would have been picked up in a split second, spread across the globe, and no one would have known it was broken by the Daily News.”
The era of “hat tip” entertainment journalism is replete with theft, cacophonous forward-momentum and miraculously scrubbed errant reports. Which for Lewittes, who moved on from the Daily News to Cosmopolitan, the Post, US Weekly and Access Hollywood, frames his latest gig. Since 2009, he has been calling out bad entertainment reporting on his well-respected website gossipcop.com. And he has, in part, Perez Hilton to thank for this.