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Michael Jackson death sends news sites’ traffic through the roof as Today show reports Jeff Goldblum hoax

Australian news sites experienced a mammoth spike in traffic today following the death of Michael Jackson.   

NineMSN told Mumbrella the news site had seen a 373 per cent increase in hourly unique browsers from 8am compared to the same time yesterday.

In a fortunate piece of timing for the site, it began trialling a live stream of the Today show this week. Nine extended the programme’s broadcast beyond its usual 9am finish through to noon.

However, the show did stumble, with entertainment editor Richard Wilkins incorrectly reporting the death of American actor Jeff Goldblum in New Zealand after a fake story was published online. He told viewers: “New Zealand police are saying this is a correct story.”

At News.com.au, by 11am the site had already received twice its normal daily traffic of around 630,000 visitors and was predicting at least 1.2 million visitors by the end of the day.

The average unique browsers to Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald website increased by 30 per cent in the three hours from 7am this morning, The Age site saw a 48 per cent jump and Brisbane Times received a whopping 2,000 per cent increase, albeit of a much lower base.

TechCrunch in the US reported several websites such as Twitter and Tmz.com went down due to an inundation of traffic.

Meanwhile, Seven’s The Morning Show binned its planned content to cover the deaths of Jackson and actress Farrah Fawcett instead. A  two-hour special from NBC in the US aired following The Morning Show. “Everything has been abandoned to make the most of the two stories,”  a spokesman said.

In Melbourne, the Herald Sun has produced a lunchtime edition.

Nine ran a Nine News special from 4.00pm, will be extending its 6pm bulletin and running a spcial edition of A Current Affair at 7pm.It will also dedicate part of Sunday night’s edition of 60 Minutes to the singer’s life and death.

And on Monday, Seven will air a newly-completed documentary created by the British TV company ITV which had been in preparation for Jackson’s planned tour.

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