Breaking News Is Broken

This has been slowly driving me around the bend, so I had to write it down. Plus I wanted to know if other people felt the same. People have lost touch with the meaning of the phrase “breaking news.”

They use it on news that isn’t that important. Some update on the state of the economy doesn’t need the “breaking news” tag. And just because it just came out doesn’t mean it’s breaking news. It’s *news*, and that’s all.

They use it on news that isn’t even new. I especially noticed this on news stations like 570 News when COVID was new. They would play the “breaking news” music, and then read a story that they read an hour before.

And they use it in news alerts apps whose job is to send people news alerts. So, they’re not interrupting anything to bring the news. I feel like using the term “breaking news” on the internet is just dumb. As soon as it’s published, it could be breaking news because that’s how the internet works. They aren’t trying to interrupt something or have it arrive ahead of schedule.

I guess this trend has been going on for a while, but I only noticed it after 2020 was being 2020. Every time I saw the words “Breaking news”, something really bad was happening. So now, when I see “Breaking news” for something trivial, I brace myself for the worst, and then I get mad. Logically, you would think I should be relieved, but I only find myself irritated.

This Slate article does a pretty good job of tracking it to way earlier than I noticed it. At least I haven’t lost my mind about what “breaking news” meant.

It sucks that there doesn’t seem to be much hope of the phrase regaining its meaning. Hopefully it doesn’t get to the point where it’s absolutely meaningless to people. At least now, I still half pay attention in case it is something important. What if we reach the point where no one even bats an eye?

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1 Comment

  1. I think we will get to that point if we haven’t already. The only reason you and I still somewhat pay attention when we hear breaking news is because we don’t spend a lot of time watching 24 hour news channels. Also, we’re old. We remember when breaking news broke into things and how much of an event it usually was. Those days are pretty much gone.

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