“Breaking News” Trying Peoples’ Patience


There has been an avalanche of Breaking News of late.  Much of that has been driven by events playing out in Washington D.C., but even local news telecasts have been known to flash the words across the scene for even the most trivial of reasons, and people say they are tired of it.  Even journalists are sick of it.

“I think there’s Breaking News fatigue, where you see something breaking and say, ‘Oh, it’s 80 degrees today.’”  Megan Garber is a journalist who writes for The Atlantic out of Washington D.C., and she is just as tired of it as you are. She says Twitter has created instantaneous information, sometimes newsworthy, that is almost impossible to keep up with and suggests we’ve reached peak tolerance.  “I think everyone is exhausted by it,” she tells KTRH News.

A New York Times reader added to the comment section of an article about breaking news; “I feel like I’m being forced to binge watch five seasons of a Netflix series in one week!”

What constitutes real Breaking News?  No one knows.  “It’s not really breaking news the way journalists define it.  The way journalists generally define Breaking News is -- there’s something going on right now that we could not have anticipated,” says Al Thompkins, who is senior faculty at the renowned Poynter Institute and teaches young gumshoes the art of the business.  Yet journalists are the ones who put the words up on the screen.  Speaking candidly, Thompkins says, “Let’s don’t kid ourselves.  Most of the time when we hear the words Breaking News, it’s not really breaking news.” 

Sometimes it’s a news operation trying to cut through the clutter of an onslaught of erupting events letting viewers know there is new information, and sometimes – it’s 80 degrees.  Plus, it’s not easy getting people’s attention to watch television news in a world where most people get their news from Facebook.


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