The Danger of the “Breaking News” Bubble

In what seemed like a long, exhausting week of rampant allegations and controversies, one story in particular fell under the radar.

Standing under the watchful (and slightly ironic) eye of an Andrew Jackson painting, President Trump met with Native American war veterans on Nov. 27. The event, which was held in honor of Native American History Month, recognized code-talkers from World War II for the bravery they showed their country. During the event, however, Trump made a comment that left the Internet in shock.

The matter itself was controversial amongst varying platforms of media. For a few short hours, it was  trending with phrases like “code talkers,” “Warren” and even #Pocahontas.

Trump’s comments received a plethora of reactions throughout social media, most either condemning Trump for his remarks or bashing Senator Warren for even claiming to be of Native American descent in the first place.

The greater problem with Trump’s controversial statements in the presence of the veterans is how quickly the media let the story go. Within the next day, stories of the royal engagement and the firing of Matt Lauer after allegations of sexual assault had taken center stage.

A fascinating video from Slate displays the drastic degree to which breaking news runs our lives. With each buzz or alert, often multiple times a day, we  lend ourselves to each notification, wondering how severe the alert might be.

A handbook for journalism explains that a breaking story should consist of and be developed in the following way: the brief, the break, the updates and a wrap up of the story. The problem currently lies with the fact that breaking news ends with the break.  

What we are seeing now is a news cycle failing to offer continuous coverage of events, in which sites and the media focus solely on one or two trending issues until the next set of breaking news occurs, and often with no follow up coverage.

Because of this, a story will never be given enough attention, leaving the public in the dark as a result.

So, the question is, are we in a unique spot in history, where the absolute volume of news is becoming too much for normal people to reasonably keep track of? Or are we just getting worse at covering the news as attention spans shrink and priorities dilute?

A recent Washington Post column by David Von Drehle argues  the former.

“Piling mania on mania makes life easy for cable news directors and heaps fuel on the Twitter garbage fire. But it makes sustained attention to long-term problems and opportunities nearly impossible,” wrote Drehle.

The only viable way out that Drehle offers is suggesting that we give our focus to news that is looking toward the future and highlighting innovation.ut turning a blind eye to newsworthy events happening in the present will only normalize ignorance in our politics and society.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way out of the news frenzy that is 2017. If we think about news the same way we think about economics, we’re pretty much immersed in a media bubble. One can only hope, that like all bubbles, it will soon pop.

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