I don't understand how "breaking news" can be interpreted these days, as the people collecting and disseminating information as "news" corrupt the very institution they created. News has been replaced by opinions considered newsworthy, creating that "gotcha" moment when an institution or an individual crumbles before our very eyes.
The news is broken and the term "breaking news" no longer lives up to billing of being new and immediate.
Reporters stand pleading with emotion about a condition or situation and we the people are supposed to follow blindly. This push-the-story behavior was quite apparent during the recent run-up to the military situation in Libya. Information flowing from battles where reporter after reporter cried, "Something must be done! Something must be done! There will be a massacre if the outside world doesn't intervene."
Once President Obama decided to establish and join a coalition, the knives came out. The journalists who were in tears over the whipping Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's army was unleashing on the protesters suddenly began to question the American government action. Uh, wasn't that you (insert name) on cable news saying we had to act?
"The news" is broken. If you want to know for sure, you can confirm your suspicions by watching same footage run over and over and over again, like episodes of "The Nanny" on Nickelodeon's Nick-at-Night lineup.
This breaking news intrusion does not only occur in the national news, it's infected what remains of our local news gathering. Old weather news airs when it's snowing like heck outside. Or lazy "breaking news" when your own knowledge of the story beats anything you've read in print or saw on television.
The entire landscape for what we once recognized as news has changed, for example, radio, the pioneer in bringing information to the masses, has been taken over by angry people drinking far too much tea.
When I see the "breaking news" icon flashing on the television screen, I think out loud, "hmm, looks like my news is broken again!"
Ken Jackson is the editor of Urban CNY and a weekly columnist for The Eagle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.