Monday November 15, 2004

Breaking News? Let's Fix It.

Last night, about 10 minutes into my favorite show in the whole wide world—Extreme Makeover: Home Edition—the commercial break was interrupted by a breaking local news story:

A small, single-engine aircraft has crashed on the roof of a San Antonio retirement home. The incliment weather could be to blame, but we’re not sure. No one from the home has been injured, but it is believed that the pilot has been killed in the impact. We’ll keep you up to date.

Fine. This event is actually quite worthy of a news break, and the information was dispensed with reasonable brevity.

About fifteen minutes later, the local news cut in once again. The same information was once again dispensed but, this time, the news anchor sat down with another news anchor who had taken flying lessons at some point in his life to discuss possible reasons for the crash. Sigh. This guy was not a pilot, mind you, and really had no qualifications to be making any assertions about anything crash-related. They cut over to the weatherman a couple of times as he literally took guesses as to why the aircraft went down. All he could do was point out that we were having rainy weather. Perceptive. I was trying to be patient, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. Time was ticking away, and though I truly believe that this news story was worthy of a brief update, there was no update, only repetition. It was as if these news anchors were simply repeating themselves ad nauseum just to hear the sound of their own important voices. Twenty minutes later, regular programming resumed and I had learned absolutely nothing new about the crash.

Wednesday night, I missed the last five minutes of CSI:NY because of a news break announcing the death of Yasser Arafat.

The news came on right after the news break, and guess what the top story was? You, guessed it: repeat-o-rama. Was it really necessary to break into regular programming to air a story that was already going to be aired five minutes later on the national news?

Let me be clear: I understand the importance of breaking news. I was disappointed to miss major portions of my television entertainment, but I could have forgiven the intrusion had there been anything informative or urgent about the news I received. Instead, I sat and listened to my local news team repeat the same information over and over and over again, with no end in sight. I didn’t see the CSI team solve the case, I got to see a news break. And then I got to see the exact same story on the news right after the news break.

I have seen this behavior many a time. My local news teams seem to be the least experienced in this sort of adlib newscasting, but seasoned outlets such as CBS have caused me great frustration as well. The protocol for these breaks seems to be, well, breaking down. Why do these news anchors feel the need to rehash the facts and events over and over again? Don’t they realized that once you start repeating yourself you actually may have nothing more to say? I have seen way too much stammering and adlibbing during breaking news stories lately.

Breaking news? You bet. And it’s high time we fixed it.


Dan » 6152 days ago #

I noticed your site off cssbeauty, nice rugged style. I don’t usually comment on blogs but you brought up a decent non-web point. News breaks are acceptable for the occasional breaking local/national news. What they need to be doing is scroll that little black bar across the bottom so I could decide how important it is.

chris » 6151 days ago #

There are probably a million better ways to accomplish their objective, but I believe the reason they repeat the same information is for people who are just tuning in to that station, either randomly or in order to hear the news.

Amazingly, it’s in the television station’s best interest to cater to all people… not just you…

And I’d guess all the major stations have to blather on for about the same time so nobody changes the channel to see whats on another channel.

On the plus side, stations around here rarely interrupt Jerry Springer repeats, so I always have something to watch…

seth » 6151 days ago #


I’ve had this sort of thing happen to me in the past, and it has annoyed me to no end.

Ben » 6150 days ago #

Did you hear that CBS fired the producer responsible for interrupting CSI:NY with that news story? I hope you’re happy with yourself. I’m pretty sure it was this blog that the execs used as ammunition to fire that poor unemployed soul.

*sheds a tear to the american working man

Jared » 6150 days ago #

Did you hear that CBS fired the producer responsible for interrupting CSI:NY with that news story? I hope youíre happy with yourself.

I heard. Click here for the story off Reuters.

I think firing him was a bit rash. I would rather hear that new protocols have been put in place to meter news breaks like this. Arafat’s death was, no question, a top news story, but it should have occurred to someone that the national news was coming on in 5 minutes and just held their horses.

And I’m definitely sure the firing was all my fault. I expect the displaced ex-producer to come looking for me now with a shovel and plenty of plastic trash bags.

stu » 6149 days ago #

Sorry mate – but sometimes there are more important things in life than you watching your beloved extreme makeover. Get over it.

Nice site though – very impressive.

Jeff Croft » 6148 days ago #

I agree 100%. Network television should be for entertainment and news. If I want in-depth analysis, interviews, and other extensive (but usually worthless) information, then I turn to CNN (or other all-news cable channel). The networks take the news way too far sometimes.

I must admit that I’m not totally comfortable agreeing with someone whose favorite show is Extreme Makeover, though. :)

Jared Christensen » 6148 days ago #

I must admit that I’m not totally comfortable agreeing with someone whose favorite show is Extreme Makeover, though.

Ahem, that’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. ;) I find that plastic surgery makes for revolting entertainment, but tearing down houses and building them up again is wicked cool.

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