Michael Jackson's death was remarkable in several ways - one of which was what it signified for news delivery and discovery. Like millions of others, I first found out through Facebook, Twitter, text messages... all of which led me to TMZ and Perez Hilton. The first major news source to break Jackson's death was the LA Times - and it is important to note that it was done first through their blog and not the homepage. Of course, that was discovered and then shared instantly via Twitter.
Hitwise today notes that TMZ experienced record traffic - catapulting into the 60th most trafficked website (and struggling to support the overwhelming growth).
But you can also look at Perez Hilton to give perspective on the traffic growth. PerezHilton.com is measured by Quantacst and we can therefore get a public, accurate representation of his traffic. Two million uniques visited PerezHilton.com on June 26th - a huge leap from the previous high of 1.6m. Those 2m visitors delivered 15.3m total page views for the day - which was his third biggest total but short of the April 22nd record of 17.7m.
To put this in perspective, we can compare it to Huffington Post's traffic for June 26th (also measured by Quantcast). Measured by uniques, HuffingtonPost is a far larger site: 19.5m monthly uniques vs. 13.1m. By pagviews, PerezHilton is far larger: ~300m monthly views vs. ~220m. But Perez dominated by any measurement and, regardless of the 'winner', these are huge numbers for nontraditional media sources and proof that 'breaking' news is being delivered - and read! - in nontraditional places.
PerezHilton.com: 15.3m pageviews and 2m uniques HuffingtonPost.com: 9m pageviews and 1.7m uniques