Is Your Local Radio Or TV Station Breaking News?
Breaking news, more commonly termed as late-breaking news or simply known as special report or news flash and interchangeably referred to as a news special, is an issue which receives heightened media interest and the attention of the general public, which then seeks immediate confirmation from the various media sources about the same. The main aim behind late breaking news is to provide readers or viewers with the breaking news as fast as possible. As such, it becomes necessary to speed up the dissemination of information through electronic media, especially in a technologically advanced modern world where communication and fast sharing of data can be virtually instantaneous. The breaking news is literally “breaking” the story as soon as it breaks. For example, a plane has just crashed at an airbase in Pennsylvania, and the first reports say that there are fatalities and injured survivors.
Within hours of the crash, various news agencies have already issued a number of reports, with some even going into panic mode, issuing numerous reports about the event as if they were themselves in the field covering it. In this case, we are talking about the phenomenon known as “churnalism”. This term was coined by American sociologist Max Weber in his classic treatise, Der Wachkoning und Sport (The World of Sport and Leisure). It basically pertains to the tendency for sports and entertainment programming to be broadcast late at night, or early in the morning in their pursuit of live coverage.
Even if a local newscast is being aired live over the airwaves, viewers who are used to rewind their programmes at specific times may not be willing to wait until the end of the programme to catch up on the breaking news. Breaking news, therefore, needs to be covered not only during the times when the newscast is being aired, but also afterwards, either in the evening or night when the program is being replayed. In a very short period of time, a large portion of a station’s viewers will have stopped watching and tuned in to the channel in question, and any coverage of breaking news therefore needs to be complemented with an equivalent amount of evening programming. For example, if the evening news is being aired, then a news show should also be airing in the evening, giving a maximum exposure to breaking news stories.
Breaking news outlets differ in their requirements for breaking coverage, and the manner in which they require their content to be disseminated. Some outlets simply need a brief synopsis of any relevant developments, containing the name of the city, county and state as well as the identity of the person reporting the news. These types of reports are often referred to as “breaking news bites” and will usually appear either at the beginning of the programme or at the end, often times in an introspective style, as if the viewer wishes to mull over the reporting and the events it covers before being able to respond. Other news outlets, however, will require a more comprehensive report, with in-depth descriptions and the whole story as it unfolds.
The first thing that most viewers will notice about your local stations is that they will often air your local sports channel first, whether it’s the local basketball league a local football team or a specific sport such as snowboarding or snowshoeing. This is because sports stories are easier to relive and easier to incorporate into entertainment for the majority of viewers. Similarly, when a newscast comes onto the screen, it will almost invariably feature some form of breaking news – be it a major development in a natural disaster, an act of violence or a new product being launched. It may feature breaking reports on local businesses, trends and gossip.
While the overall tone of your local stations’ coverage of breaking news is very different from that of broadcast media outlets, there is one key similarity: all news outlets strive for consistency. All want to maintain the same appearance, have the same reporting and delivery style and are keen to provide similar features and the same content. Therefore, whether you’re watching a newscast on television, listening to the radio or reading a news blog online, the tone and message should be consistent. When the tone and content of a station’s coverage differ significantly from that of other media, this should be considered a red flag and you should avoid that station altogether.