SO you are sitting in your favourite lounge chair watching the television program that comes on at the same time every day. What will make you sit up and take notice?
Is it the dramatic headline that says something like “News Flash” or some dramatic announcement that interrupts your favourite advertisement?
Not so long ago I saw a newspaper group’s website (nothing to do with this group) listing more than a dozen news items and carrying the overall heading “breaking news”. This reminded me of a question asked of me several months ago.
I thought little of it at the time, but since then I have noticed many items all introduced by an announcer telling us that the “shock horror” story about to follow is “breaking news”.
And every time, the “breaking news” item has been in the news program anyway.
It started me wondering what the difference is between “news” and “breaking news”. Isn’t television news supposed to tell us the latest happenings locally and around the world?
I consulted some dictionaries to find out what they had to say about “breaking news” and how “breaking news” differed from “news”.
The Collins dictionary said breaking news was “news of events that have taken place very recently or are in the process of taking place”. Oxford said breaking news was “news that is arriving about events that have just happened”.
The term arose because originally breaking news was important enough to stop a program on radio or television. It might have involved the death of a national leader or some calamity that warranted the decision to break into Days of Our Lives to tell people about it. That meant “breaking”.
In more recent times the early preparation of a television news bulletin meant that anything that happened after the bulletin was completed was termed “breaking”.
I’m told sometimes “breaking news” is news they forgot to put in the main bulletin.
News incidentally, received many dictionary definitions, but one is “a report of recent events, previously unknown”.
I think the last time I saw a real example of “breaking news” was the day Harold Holt went for a swim. That was about 45 years ago.
While I’m in the whingeing mood, I might as well mention some other of my pet hates:
I’ve mentioned it before, but to my mind more people are saying anythink rather than anything. I don’t know why.
How many people say “in the not too distant future” instead of “soon”?
I agree with Susie Dunn of Armidale who complained about the use of haitch instead of aitch.
Notice how many people talk about something being between “this to that” instead of being between “this and that”.
Some real estate agents love telling you a house is “a mile to town” instead of “a mile from town”. Apparently the way they say it makes it seem closer.