This constitutes breaking news?

News1One of our leading industry trade journals just loves blasting all-too-frequent breaking news e-mails to its thousands of loyal readers.

That’s cool because, as is the case with CNN, I count on breaking news to keep me current on important developments in my chosen field. But, as is the case with some CNN breaking news bulletins, the ones I’ve been receiving of late from the PR trade neither constitute news nor demand alacrity in their dissemination. Consider these recent examples:
-    ‘GM Media Director Cooney Joins Ford’
-    ‘Dun & Bradstreet Taps Porter Novelli as AOR’
-    ‘Ogilvy Hires Edelman Veteran as Consumer President’

Outside the incredibly narrow circle of mega organizations mentioned in the above items (along with the family and friends of the individuals) who cares? Paraphrasing Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca, these breaking news stories “…don’t amount to a hill of beans.”
My colleague, Sam Ford, felt the exact same way about TelevisionWeek, a trade journal which began bombarding him with such non-breaking news items as:
-    ‘Wheel’ Contestant Even Stuns Sajak with Answer’
-    ‘Davy Jones of The Monkees Dies’
-    ‘Clarence Clemons, of Springsteen’s E Street Band, Dies’

As Sam says of the latter two, “Sure, both were interesting and beloved performers, but qualifying this as breaking television news is ludicrous.” (Read Sam’s complete blog on the subject.)

As Ford points out, TelevisionWeek did itself and readers a disservice by not only blasting out non-news items, but headlining them as breaking news. They undermined their own journalistic credibility and, ultimately, led Sam to unsubscribe from the publication, an experience he described as “liberating.”

I don’t intend to unsubscribe from the PR trade journal in question because, frankly, we have so few decent ones serving our industry, that I’d rather be spammed with non-breaking news items than be left completely in the dark.

That said, is it not the height of irony that a media property whose mission is to cover the news of an industry lacks a nose for news itself? Their non-breaking news is just one example. The same publication is devoid of any semblance of investigative journalism (a sad trait shared by every other PR journal, BTW). It also paints such a rosy picture of PR that one is tempted to call it, instead, StepfordWeek or, perhaps, UtopiaWeek.

I do hope this is read by the journalists in question as constructive criticism. Please continue to alert me when something of importance to the entire PR industry occurs. But, don’t spam my in-box with such breaking news announcement as ‘The Planet Neptune Names Burson Galactic AOR.’ Such information is important to only two, narrow constituents: Burson employees and Neptunians. Neptunites? Neptunarians?”


8 thoughts on “This constitutes breaking news?

  1. Ha! Classic response, Trish. Thanks for sharing. Methinks the PR trades write for three narrow audiences: communicators at mega corporations, large agency employees and, as you suggest, themselves. As a result, they’re alienating the hundreds of thousands of PR executives toiling at smaller corporations and agencies. It’s a great example of not listening to your audience’s wants and needs.

  2. Recently, the local paper went to a three day a week delivery consolidating most of its news in those issues but then having an online presence. They did eliminate some sections due to lack of interest or moved sections to a different day so they would be in print. At a PRSA meeting held at the paper, a PR person asked, “What happened to the People & Places section?” This is the section that highlighted promotions and new hires. The editor said you know, no one has complained or noticed that section is missing… we think only PR people read it/cared. So true.

  3. Point made, Book. I’m sure there are multiple examples. But, unlike TV stations one can just turn off, I’m dependent upon the PR trades for the little, real news they provide. It’s a Catch-22 situation.

  4. How true, Art. The term breaking news is equivalent to superstar. It’s been so overused that nothing really qualifies as breaking news and few, if any, athletes are true superstars.

  5. I question the very concept of “breaking news” anymore. Given that most people can’t pass gas without it being commented on by someone on social media within seconds of it happening, I find it hard to believe that anything is considered breaking news.

  6. Isn’t this the same as the new feed ticker at the bottom of every tv station that lists Lindsey Lohan’s latest arrest? Another reason I can’t watch any television anymore.