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Breaking News That’s Not Breaking News

Breaking news is supposed be news that’s suddenly occurring like a plane crash or unscheduled and still developing.  The term implies that the news is coming in as it’s being reported, something that’s becoming quicker and quicker in today’s social media society.


However you often see the term used for things that are not breaking news.  The other day the TV said, “Breaking: Congress to vote on jobs bill”.   A scheduled vote is not breaking news; it’s not a surprise or an unexpected twist in a story.  It’s possible to prepare a broadcast for this vote in advance, which makes it simply news.  People were discussing the vote, and the implications of the vote, well before I saw this on the television last night. 


Additionally, followup news stories to breaking news are no longer breaking news.   If President Obama announces a press conference in the afternoon for 8pm, that’s breaking news because it’s altered the daily schedule and no one was prepared for it previously.  When 8pm rolls around it’s no longer breaking news, it’s a followup story.  If the president says something that’s new, such as “We’re going to bomb Mordor”, then it becomes breaking news.  If he’s merely updating the status of an existing war, or discussing the progress of a bill, it’s not breaking news. 


The overuse of the term breaking news is an egotistic one.  The news media suggesting that their stories are so important that they preempt everything going on at that time is arrogance at it’s finest.  It’s also a boy who cried wolf scenario: artifically creating hype for non-critical stories lessens the impact of truly breaking news.  The story should create the hype, not the other way around.


Breaking news also implies that there is something new.  If you portray a story as breaking, it should be bringing the audience new information that’s developing in real time.  If you’re recapping something that’s been being discussed on the Internet for hours, you better be bringing something new to the discussion or clearing up rumors with hard facts.

October 12th, 2011 by Ceetar in life, Television and Movies
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