Breaking News

cnn_war_announcement_1991Over the past 19 hours, I’ve gotten four Breaking News alerts from CNN:

  • Colorado judge sentences ‘balloon boy’ dad to 90 days in jail with some of that time to be served on work release.
  • Man holding hostages at Virginia post office is in custody, CNN affiliate WDBJ reports.
  • David Goldman has been reunited with his son, Sean, according to the U.S. consulate general in Rio de Janiero.
  • The U.S. Senate has passed an $871 billion health care reform plan.

The first three are mildly interesting, I suppose, but they’re hardly of sufficient “breaking” quality to require a blast to what one presumes is hundreds of thousands of subscribers.  The last is probably worthy although, frankly, it was a foregone conclusion.

What criteria are being used to judge whether something is “breaking news,” I wonder?  Sometimes, days go by without one being sent and sometimes there are several sent in a day.  I’m occasionally alerted to important stories that I might otherwise have been unaware of for a couple hours but, mostly, I scratch my head as to why the alert was sent.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.