Broken News

Maybe 24-hour news channels are a bad idea. Whenever there is a big, breaking news story, they virtually race to the scene to provide a seemingly starved public with information that we usually don’t need at that moment, and sometimes don’t need at all. Live shots from the scene are interspersed with experts who explain that they don’t have enough information to make an assessment at that moment, and then go on to provide three to four minutes of assessments; because the time needs to be filled until the next commercial break. And hey, I’m as implicated as anyone as an active recipient of this information. When news breaks, I flip on the TV and breathlessly refresh web pages and scan Twitter as if my knowledge of the details of a news event somehow elevates my role to something greater than random guy on a couch nowhere near incident. This race to provide the freshest information can lead to some highly questionable moments, like the one that played out on Friday morning: “On live national television, reporters sifted through the remains of the lives of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. They picked over children’s toys. They held up photos, speculating about whether the woman depicted in one might be Malik. They displayed Social Security cards and driver’s licenses with readily identifiable information–and not just for the deceased suspects.” From The Atlantic: What the Hell Just Happened on MSNBC and CNN?

+ I wonder who will be first to say they got an exclusive.

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