BREAKING NON-NEWS

CNN has a big red banner atop their site

BREAKING NEWS: Senior U.S. officials say intelligence “chatter” suggests terrorists may be planning a major attack inside the United States. Details to come.

Now, what possible good could such an announcement bring? No news value–there is no information beyond the fact that terrorists would like to hit the US, which we knew–and of course nothing we can do about it as readers.

Update: It occurs to me that the above post is framed as a criticism of CNN for running with the story. While I do think it’s being overplayed, my major objection is to the government for constantly waving the red flag on these issues. Given that we’ve been in at least Condition Yellow since the alert system was created, I find all government warnings about attacks that are not quite specific worse than useless.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
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.

Comments

  1. Hanah says:

    Is news primarily valuable for its usefulness to everyday people? If so, a number of the top headlines from CNN right now are pointless. Whatpossible good could these announcements bring?

    – Bush calls Abbas to crack down on terror.
    – Scott Peterson’s ex-girlfriend says she is ready to testify.
    – Judge enters not guilty plea for Nichols in OKC bombing trial.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Hanah,

    A good point. Clearly, a lot of things in the news are of little real importance. The difference though is the stories you cite are factual updates on ongoing stories and unlikely to incite panic. Constantly stating that there is increased terror intel traffic strikes me as sensationalistic and harmful.

  3. John Lemon says:

    What do you mean?! This news is plenty useful. I’m typing this from underneath my desk right now. Thank you CNN. Bless you Ted Turner.