Our View: Breaking news; breaking rules
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:02
News has broken its bondage to the long wait times between its production and being seen. Breaking newscasts can interrupt TV shows and live newscasts have become monotonous.
The concept of immediate news is perpetuated by news agencies who are in a constant gridlock to break stories first. This becomes a vicious cycle for major news media, as they continuously need to break news sooner then their competitors.
Just as a person can speak before thinking, news media has fallen into broadcasting before evaluating the need for the information.
This immediacy, while good in its intent, brings consequences.
For starters, breaking news usually entails that the story is still developing. Even though the agency is making a report on something, the situation is not yet clear and coverage can be limited to making educated guesses about what could happen next.
As we are well aware this isn’t a good framework for journalism where its main tenant is its obligation to the truth. In fact, breaking stories that have this speculation open the door for bias, misinformation and worse, the ability to sensationalize news.
Since 1997, when the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism teamed with the Committee of Concerned Journalists, there has been a consensus about the shared mission of journalism.
“The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.”
It upholds this through nine established principles: being obligated to the truth, loyal to citizens, disciplined in verification, maintaining an independence from those they cover, serving as an independent monitor of power, providing a forum for public criticism and compromise, making the significant interesting and relevant, keeping the news comprehensive and proportional and allowing its workers to exercise their personal conscience.
News corporations should, in many instances, revert back to the classical approach of journalism to ensure that all of these tenants stay in tact.
Take for instance the tracking down of the ex-LAPD officer in California. Viewers got to watch the man-hunt live, hear from the local police chief, see police searching vehicles on the highway and listen to a gun battle.
Do viewers need to see all of this information? Should we really watch a gun battle that claimed the life of a policeman on live television or should there be some media restraint when publishing certain content of stories?
It seems ridiculous that audiences would need to see a battle clip to grasp the magnitude of this story.
As members of media, we are exercising our personal conscience to say that there is a better way.
“Our View” is written by the editorial staff. The opinions are not necessarily reflective of the student body, faculty or administration of Arkansas State University.