Reporters, please: dial down the hysterics before we all implode. Seriously.
Is it me or have you noticed that for the past few months, every single news network declares "breaking news" with each and every report? Even when there truly isn't any "breaking" news, this call-to-panic (read: ratings grabber) has become the newest moniker for whenever an anchor takes to the airwaves with a story update.
I don't know about you, but I find this heightened level of drama to be exhausting to the mind and spirit. I am a self-confessed news junkie, and for me to finally call uncle is really saying something. Perhaps it's that once-a-reporter, always-a-reporter thing, but trust me when I say, I flip channels to dissect who's covering what and how at breakneck speed. I love the media (sad, sick, but true) and at heart, consider myself a journalist first. What I cannot stand however, is the tabloidization (I may have just created a non-word) of each and every story update.
For starters, this practice is misleading. Second, it creates a feeling of fear, dread, and pessimism for viewers, each time they tune in online, on TV or on their phone or tablet. Third? I have no third. But I don't really think I need one.
Over the last few months, the world has seen plenty to be worried about: Malaysian Airlines flight 370 (42 days and counting), horrific unrest in Ukraine, this week's harrowing South Korean tragedy that has (thus far) claimed the lives of over 100 high-school students (while hundreds remain unaccounted for and possibly trapped--dead or alive--in a rapidly-sinking ferry), to the televised reminders of the Boston Marathon bombings, which took place one year and two days ago in my own backyard (not to mention the absolute idiot fool (another term I think I am going to coin or at least wear out) who thought it comical and artistic to carry a backpack with a rice cooker and then allegedly - make a false bomb threat right near the finish line of the Boston Marathon this week (on the very day the city was commemorating the one-year anniversary of the attack), to the Oscar Pistorius trial and the Blade Runner's hideous wailing in court about how "sorry" he was that he mistook his girlfriend, attorney and fashion model Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder, and accidentally shot her some four times, killing the 30-year-old.
It's just too much. Each one of these events, on their own, is enough to leave the most cynical among us in disbelief. To have the agonizing moments of new (and often incorrect, inconclusive, and not at all significant) updates heralded as breaking news every time some new tidbit is discovered, creates more drama, stress, and heartache for the families involved and for compassionate citizens who tune in.
To me, "breaking news" goes something like this:
Peter Jennings breaking into regularly scheduled programming on the morning on 9/11/11, announcing the most horrific of all horrific moments, in his calming, measured tone.
Wolf Blitzer, stating today (and absolutely unbelievably, btw) that Jews in the Ukraine have been informed by the Russian military that they must "register" as Jews to avoid being deported as well as having their personal property confiscated. This, some 70+ years after Adolf Hitler began what would become the unimaginable annihilation of some six million Jews.
With all the truly breaking bad news these days, let's lower the hyperbole on each and every update so that when breaking news actually happens (and unfortunately, it will), we, as viewers and media consumers can temper our own reactions. Simply put: it's time for the press to dial down the noise so that we can preserve our inner panic for when it's truly warranted.
Until Next Time,