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.

FILED UNDER: General
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.