How “Breaking” are “Breaking News”?

What struck me was that the news of Ambition Academy Miss Teen Nepal 2005 appeared with the tag line “Breaking News” on Kantipur Online. I still wonder if it was exactly the right decision. A critique of online journalism in Nepal

By Satish Jung Shahi

On Saturday night, August 6, popular news web portal Kantipur Online came up with a pretty unusual tagline, which I myself as a former online journalist with the same news site felt quite awkward for a general news piece.

The news was of a less heard about, but yet one of the many other beauty pageants held in Kathmandu these days. The contest was named: Ambition Academy Miss Teen Nepal 2005 (Named after a college organizing the event). The official media partners (a usual tag line event managers tend to adopt these days) was no wonder Kantipur TV and The Kathmandu Post, both sister units of the Kantipur Group.

What struck me was that the news of the event appeared with the tag line “Breaking News” on Kantipur Online, another sister unit of Kantipur Publications, that very Saturday evening when the event took place at the Birendra International Convention Hall in New Baneshwore. I still wonder if it was exactly the right decision.

News online has become so competitive today that web portals tend to claim their news to be so “breaking ” to show you are ahead of your rival portals â?? no matter how much less news worthy the event maybe. And the “Breaking News” tagline has turned so much of an easy access to show that you are actually reporting it ahead than others in the same business.

I remember, three years ago within days of the launch of Kantipur TV, I myself as one of the few news producers had aired a news piece labeling it as “Breaking News” with raw footages of a road accident that had occurred in Tinkune while the evening prime time news was just on air. There was no death but just minor injuries in the incident. The key intension at that time was to only show the viewers that Kantipur Television was one of the few television stations that aired live news broadcasts that time. Plus, it was a great opportunity to display the strength of the news team that it was able to air “Breaking News” anytime as and when required. But there was still a huge debate in the newsroom over if the event was “breaking” enough.

With online news, experiences are similar to television and FM stations. News in these mediums can be instantly reported to the general mass and corrections can be made easily without any record of it as in the print media. And in case of web news, there are instances when major corrections are made in the text even without an apology it owes to its readers.

To cut the competition short, at this age, is television news that has a lot more resources than the web news team. All an online journalist can afford to do today is to sit in front of the television or radio and re-report what the broadcaster is reading. That is what you can observe is happening with both Kantipur Online and Nepalnews these days. It also happened on a late night in 2003 when I was one of the only two reporters for Kantipur Online reporting the “Breaking News” of the breakdown of government-Maoist ceasefire with the attack on an army garrison in Dang.

But why did “Miss Teen Nepal” appear so “breaking” to Kantipur Online? Is it because reporters at Kantipur Online misjudged it as a mega event or is it because its sister groupings were the official media partners to the event?

Interestingly, Nepalnews responded on Sunday evening with two-major “Breaking News” on its site. The first was titled “Rebels attack police posts in Banepa” and the second one was posted within hours saying, “Clashes in Kalikot“. The second piece even had the time of the news posting inscribed beside its headline to outrun its rivals.

On a lighter note, here are a few more suggestions to both Kantipur Online and Nepalnews staffers for their further “Breaking News” stories:

1. BREAKING NEWS: Dog Barks in Tinkune (Remember, Kantipur is reporting it to you first!)
2. BREAKING NEWS: Chicken crosses the road in Durbarmarg (Remember, Nepalnews is reporting it to you first!)
3. BREAKING NEWS: No breaking news today (Remember, this is the best Breaking News on a dry news day!)

Any more additions, suggestions please?

Satish Jung Shahi is a freelance journalist. These are his personal views and they do not necessarily represent UWB.

10 Responses to “How “Breaking” are “Breaking News”?”

1. mina Says:
August 8th, 2005 at 11:09 pm

Dirty salesmanship of famale flesh. These women should have replaced those poor Badi women if they have so much pleasure of flesh show.
2. mister Says:
August 8th, 2005 at 11:24 pm

���ा ल��ठ� भर��र� भा��िय�� BREAKING NEWS
3. Murchhana. Says:
August 9th, 2005 at 12:17 am

But I don’t see any mistake giving those news the breaking news status. What’s wrong? The more those sites come up with updates and breaking news of the day, the more we will be benefited. Information is the key. And we have to use that key to the fullest.

At least you knew about the beauty pageant’s result and the Kalikot fighting quickly from those sites. Even in the countries like US, TVs used to give live coverage of even small events because if people are interested in them. So, lets not always criticize things. Think positive, think HP!

Did that sound like another breaking news? LOL
4. Blogbahini Says:
August 9th, 2005 at 2:32 am

It does sound a little weird to have events such as these featured in the ‘breaking..’ section, while other much heart-aching, happening incidents fail to sway reporters’ attention. your concern does draw attention that media these days are pitching in for cheap popularity, but hey, which one isn’t? are you grumpy because yours didnt?? besides, this event isnt as cheap as a ‘dog barking in Tinkune’, it did deserve some attention (albeit not the honor bestowed by kantipur).
5. Nepali Says:
August 9th, 2005 at 9:21 am

Reminds me of the Indian channel “Aaj Tak” which I detest so much.
6. GB Says:
August 9th, 2005 at 11:29 am

Anil,

You have raised a very pertinent issue here. It is really tragic that our media can not differentiate between the “news” and the “breaking news”.
Is this because, our media is so greedy that they will write anything for money or they lack the capacity of judgement? To me, both of these are unfortunate and dangerous syndrom which will only downgrade our fifth state.

Will our media take note of this?

GB
7. Avipsha Says:
August 9th, 2005 at 1:04 pm

well !
i think,, the purpose of the so called “breaking-news” is served, guess how! simply because, UWB itself broke this “breaking news” as a “breaking news” and all of us, ” the redundent fools of the blogosphere” (note that i m the foolest one), bothered ourselves spitting our best/worst venom upon the triffle” beauty pageant” and the bagatelle ” breaking news” in this comment section. howzzz datt!!
8. Zinta Says:
August 9th, 2005 at 1:11 pm

In a country steeped deelpy in troubles of all kinds, people are still organising beauty pageants…I guess that is the “breaking” aspect of the news. By the way, does any one know journalistic norms of nitty gritties of calling a news a breaking news! Does the writer know or any one ..Please post…it will make an interesting read.
9. Rubina Says:
August 10th, 2005 at 10:09 am

Well, what is new is news. And people are interested in all kinds of news. Not just those including death, violence, blood and gore. Although, a college beauty pageant won’t feature in many people’s “have to know now” item but national and international beauty pageants might. What’s more, many of us lap up news of beauty pageants and celebrities more eagerly than that of yet another car bomb blast in Iraq.

There definitely is a need of sorting through and prioritising in Nepali media but hey! at least we are trying.
10. person Says:
August 18th, 2005 at 10:01 pm

It’s news but not “Breaking News”. It’s nice that something besides violence and killing is going on in the country. The media plays a major role in most countries when it comes to influence so it should be more aware of how it words events and where it places them but its true, like what some other people said, it’s interest. News sites can put things like beauty pageant results in the “breaking news” section of the Entertainment or Events category instead of the main news section which should cover more newsworthy events that aren’t getting enough coverage.

One thought on “How “Breaking” are “Breaking News”?”

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