The "Breaking News" Gimmick (6/15/06) - WDRB 41 Louisville News

The "Breaking News" Gimmick (6/15/06)

I've noticed a disturbing trend in local television news.

At the direction of national News consultants, some local stations are using the term "Breaking News" as often as possible. Everything is "Breaking News" now. The problem is, the vast majority of news they are touting as "breaking" isn't breaking at all. This tactic is just hype and trickery designed to fool the audience into thinking their station is on top of more news than the other stations.

And when one station in a city starts abusing the term, other stations tend to begin overusing it too. I even saw our own newsroom fall victim to this gimmick when we had a "Breaking News" story about an Indiana teacher who was arrested for a DUI. I certainly didn't think it was "breaking" and it probably wasn't even "news." Barry Fulmer, our news director agreed and then emphatically told our newsroom that we are not going to cry "wolf" just because others do. Lying to viewers is no way to get them to watch.

Using the phrase "breaking news" isn't wrong but it better be big and it better be happening right now!

So why do I care what the other stations do? I think it's dangerous to play with a news organization's reputation and this "breaking news" gimmick threatens to damage everyone's credibility. Ours included.

I'm Bill Lamb...and that's my Point of View.

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