Breaking news, synonymous with the breaking of news stories, and sometimes also called live news or special reports or news segment is any event that merges the reporting of a local event with the breaking of any story, including international and national events. In its broadest sense, breaking news refers to any event that leads to an unfolding event or situation. A single breaking news story may be related to any event, from a sports event to a natural disaster or explosion. It may even happen to an everyday occurrence such as an accident on the highway or a dog getting into a trash truck.
Breaking news as a service is available through a multiplicity of media, including television, radio, online sites, and print media. The breaking news segments of popular evening news broadcasts on most stations are almost always followed by a prerecorded children’s game or other seasonal program, typically the equivalent of “game-day coverage” on a Saturday afternoon sports channel. Similarly, a prerecorded news Special Report can precede a slate of local programming, including local weather forecasts, recipes, feature stories, and often celebrity interviews, as well as photos and other content that are relevant to the audience and show the station’s commitment to delivering breaking news as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Broadcasting live events as breaking news does not require a drastic change in the schedule of the rest of the programming either. In fact, the vast majority of broadcast media today have in place strict guidelines for when a story is scheduled to air and how long it will remain on the air. For example, a sports network might shorten the timeframe of a college basketball tournament final to less than one minute following a victory by the player or team of the bracket winner, or a musical variety show might choose to curtail the amount of time devoted to a musical performance following the premiere of a new song or album.
As previously noted, a great many television and radio stations have decided to take full advantage of this growing trend of real-time breaking news coverage by providing live streaming of breaking news reports and other related content across their websites and apps. For some, this represents a challenge since conventional broadcast mediums do not allow for the instantaneous delivery of large amounts of content through the internet. Some news outlets have developed strategies that allow them to provide live streaming of content at certain times on certain days and to have a link to the desktop version of their website or app for those who might prefer to read the news through a web browser rather than the computer screen. Additionally, traditional broadcast media has made great strides toward minimizing the amount of time that reporting will interrupt current programming. Many shows now make a portion of their entire broadcast available to viewers in the form of video, often displaying it right alongside the text of the article or story, or some type of fadeable overlay.
For traditional media, the days of the viewer being left in the dark while the network anchor read update is almost over. Today, viewers can choose to listen in on breaking news as it happens or simply ignore the commercial-free updates. If they prefer to stay informed, some stations offer news tickers that interrupt live coverage of a story with a pre-roll quote from an employee or from one of the guests in the studio, often prompting viewers to tune into the station in order to read the pertinent information. For television stations that utilize the live streaming model, this streamlined delivery allows viewers to control their coverage of the stories as they see fit, skipping the parts that are less interesting to them while staying abreast of the developing events.
While most people tend to find breaking news less interesting than the everyday routine of local newscasts and morning news, the expansion of online media makes it more accessible than ever before. As covered extensively in magazines, newspapers, and on numerous news channels, breaking news content is quickly becoming a staple of American life. For news junkies, it provides the opportunity to fill long hours with fascinating stories about the world and the people who live in it, something that traditional media may not always provide.