That should probably have been “No longer BREAKING” with the appropriate capitalization. Now free of obligation to pass along “broken” news bits, my aim is to axe the word from my vocabulary. I have used it far too much for professional purposes (admittedly in personal uses as well), and I am not certain it is the best strategy for conveying information. I ask for my friends to keep me accountable on my word ban. I will need the support.
I have gotten so good at typing that word very quickly that I sometimes do it as a nervous tic: B-R-E-A-K-I-N-G; check if I left out the B, as I am wont to to do; hit ENTER. Tapped out on the counter or in my coat pocket.
In online news, especially the social blend, breaking fires the mega news alarm. It is understood to mean that a story is 1. big 2. a new report and 3. something that everyone is going to want to see. Thus, slap an easily recognizable all-caps word on it, let it fly, and watch the news crowd go bonkers. And it works! Being a breaker of news will make you seem smarter, faster, cooler, and a fast typer: traits sure to make you a big deal online.
But the term has become so overused and abused that it has been stripped of much value. Yet it is still widely used, as it was in my previous employment.
There are many new challenges and competitors for news sources these days. Among those competitors are media entities who pioneered shock and awe information. They have been in the business of luring eyeballs since the days when people still read print! And now news organizations are trying to beat them at their own game? Not a wise move in my view. Everybody is doing it, and everybody will look the same until someone breaks the mold and gets a leg up.
I think this is an opportunity for those in the news biz. Instead of tagging a report with a hot word, why not make the whole report hot? Find new ways to put the story and the medium to work for convincing the audience that your story has much more to offer than a flashy ornament slapped on another.
To hold myself to this experiment, I am going to go to the extent to eliminate the word “breaking” from my online communication, and to replace it with alternate and hopefully more compelling information. To up the ante, I offer anyone who catches me using the word online to a coffee at my expense.
Finally, I must mention that I mean no disrespect to my former employer, nor anyone who deals in breaking news. These folks are remarkably talented, and I respect their commitment to sharing information as soon as they have it. My hat remains off to all those in this boat.