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Breaking News or Broken News?

I stand near the front of the line of people who think that the news and publishing business is perched on the edge of looming change that will undermine them as much (or more) than the recording and film industry have faced. This is hardly “news”.

But there is this ramping eagerness to be the “first” to report news, that it might be better to be first to report a story rather than the first to report a “good” (or even “correct”) story.

An isolated incident; ut of some weird curiosity, because I rarely rush to news stories, I noticed that Dean Shareski had retweeted a story that Tiger Woods was seriously injured in a car crash.


I am not a golf fan, but I was more curious about the account reporting this story, BreakingNews.

A story today on the gather site seems to be commending BreakingNews for being 45 minutes faster to report this story than CNN:

the question seems to be now, why did it take CNN 45 minutes to report three little lines when BNO News reported in almost immediately? Where did most people hear that Tiger Woods was okay? Twitter. Twitter will soon out trump many news reporters (and for some people already has) in real-time story reporting.

The problem is that most of this breaking news reporting was wrong, and wrong for hours. Tiger’s “seriously injured” turned out to be barely hurt at all, and the “crash near florida home” apparently involved his car hitting a fire hydrant as he was exiting his driveway.

Now a good chunk of this wrongness was due to bad information in the press releases from the state agencies.

But what is happening, si that “breaking news” is not confirmed news, not fact-checked news, and very well, as in this case, might be dead wrong.

There is no stopping this gold rush to be wrong with any rumor of a “trending” story, but I am going to consider that very likely most breaking news is broken. The bigger question is; how will we be able to confirm news stories anymore, since the reporting parties are no longer checking them.

Screen shot 2009-11-28 at 4.52.49 PM
Breaking News or Broken News? Who knows?

I am in no way defending the old way of reporting news, as that has gone by the way side; I am wondering what emerges as the new form.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. THANK YOU. This was (a) not news. (b) incorrect and inaccurate. and (c) irrelevant to anything. This was the leading story on the evening news. No mention of, say, Iranian protests, or Rwandan genocide, or IED in Iraq or Afghanistan. Tiger gets cracked in the head with a golf club. Leading story. I am officially tuning out of all mass media “newscasts” as nothing more than the advertising sales vectors they are.

  2. as a followup, I wonder how things would be different if newscasts were somehow prohibited from running advertising or accepting sponsorship. The demand to be first at all costs (thereby attracting advertising dollars) would be lessened. Perhaps quality could improve. What if news was somehow reframed as a public service that stations performed as part of their licensing of public airwaves? What if the need to be sensational and dramatic was removed? Why does a newscast need DRAMATIC MUSIC INTRODUCTION, and DRAMATIC GRAPHIC BACKGROUNDS etc… It should be just the news. Not Twitter read by someone in a suit. Not advertising poorly disguised as news (or worse – consumer guides…)

    I’ll get off the soapbox. I’m tired of being yelled at (and whispered at) by advertisers from every conceivable angle.

  3. “I wonder how things would be different if newscasts were somehow prohibited from running advertising or accepting sponsorship.” I actually think that would make little difference in today’s world of wanting to be famous. I think though the mighty dollar is almost always at the root, fame seems to be even more valuable these days.

    It seems as though it is the “breaking” part that is broken. Eventually the story comes around to the correct one even before the morning paper arrives. I do think it is an important skill to learn and to teach our students.

    Funny we heard the ‘news’ from the same source.

  4. I first heard about Tiger’s accident from The headline was “Tiger in car crash, serious condition.” No idea how quickly they reported it in relation to BNO or CNN, but ESPN was just as wrong.

    It sure sounds like the misinformation is coming from Tiger’s camp. The real problem I see is who is in “control” of the news flow. Sure, BNO (and CNN and ESPN) were wrong, but they were misinformed. “News,” after all, is just the spreading of information. Hard to blame BNO, et al. for reporting the information they were given.

    I’m with you, D’Arcy. Much like campaign finance reform (possibly a weird companion) I don’t see these folks calling themselves out and cutting their own funding altruistically.

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