It’s Time We Dismantle Breaking News For The Sake Of Human Decency
Breaking a news story has always set precedence in journalism as a goal to get the jump on other networks or publications. In other terms, “getting the scoop”. The objective behind breaking a news story grants an entity exclusivity of a story and would normally require replication to have “according to”, attached. Decades ago, a breaking story would often have a full 24-hour news cycle before others could catch on to make a follow-up report. This length of time frequently included fact-checking to ensure that what was being reported was factual, firstly.
Nowadays, with social media and technology enhancing how quickly information is received, breaking news is like a mad dash for every media outlet to report, first whether 100% factual or not. As we have been ushered into the consumption of gossip media and blogs, the tool of breaking a story has come at the expense of journalistic integrity (if any) and worse to the dismay of people who it impacts directly.
On Sunday, January 26, 2020, the world was shaken by the news of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers (John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan) were killed in a helicopter crash heading to a basketball game. The news, by itself, was debilitating for fans around the world and others receiving the gut-punch of such a tragedy, but it would be the media entity of TMZ that would break the story outside of the integrity that is due to the family and loved ones closest.
The initial headline would read, “Kobe Bryant Killed In Plane Crash…Everyone Else On Board Dead Too”, later changed to reflect something a little more humane. It was one of the most openly disrespectful displays of supposed journalism, we have come to know. The disgusting nature of the headline wasn’t the most inexcusable offense. The insult atop of this tragedy, in their quest to be first, was that the families had not yet been notified. Families who deserved the respect and patience that the trauma of the situation presented, as opposed to it being treated like a gossip blog for The Shaderoom.
Although the news of what TMZ had done made people completely taken aback, the percentage of people actually surprised was very low. It would not be the first time that TMZ would rush to be the first to “break” a tragedy prior to the family being notified and with this new generational media rush to get the scoop has turned supposed-to-be respectable media entities foaming at the mouth to get ahead of stories while delivering incomplete or inaccurate information.
And enough is beyond too much. Careless reporting is dangerous. We are watching mental health chokehold people at alarming rates that result in even more tragedy. There’s a major difference between breaking a story with subject matter that is entertaining or impacts the greater community’s health and safety. A tragedy is not that.
Tragedy requires care and time and should not be a matter of being first but being complete knowing that the people who have a direct hit of it have to receive the information and possibly have a second to process. What’s reported by the media gravely impacts families and our social society, as a whole.
Nonetheless, the toxicity doesn’t begin and end there. We must now acknowledge that although there’s a thirst for toxic media to get the scoop, there is also a line of people on the lookout to readily provide the information. In the midst of it all, we are infiltrated with people who are standing, lurking, and readily grabbing their phones to capture the moments to send over to media.
Who told TMZ about the helicopter crash before waiting to notify families?
What mindset have we entered that finds it okay to see such a traumatic event and think it needs to be brought to the media, first?
People’s livelihoods can not be at the expense of these toxic media systems. It is time that we dismantle what they represent and hold everyone accountable that makes up such depravity. It is deplorable to use the excuse that these organizations are simply “doing their jobs” at the expense of some semblance of decency.