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The Importance Of Breaking News

By Ken Foote

Lately, you have probably seen a lot of breaking news interruptions on all of the commercial television stations in town. And depending on your own personal circumstances, these interruptions are either a blessing or a curse to you!

The first breaking news situation I remember dates back to November 1963. TV technology was still being developed, especially in the area of reporting live from remote locations. There were no satellite transmission facilities, telephone lines did not have the capacity they have today, no cellular phone service, no email, and the Internet was primarily used by the Defense Department.

During the broadcast of CBS’s As The World Turns, word came into the CBS News headquarters in New York that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Back then, TV cameras needed time to warm up for about 30 minutes and as it happened, they were not ready to go when the news broke. Walter Cronkite, who was the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, reacted quickly. Being a former wire reporter and radio announcer, he got the staff to put up a CBS News Special Bulletin slide while he stepped into an audio booth to say “three shots had been fired at the motorcade and that Kennedy was seriously wounded.…. stay tuned to CBS News for further details”. This aired at 12:40pm CST. For the next hour, CBS News and its Dallas Fort Worth affiliate, KRLD-TV (now KDFW FOX 4), worked as fast as they could to get the facts to the public.

kennedy cronkite The Importance Of Breaking News
At 1:38pm CST, Cronkite said those words that will live forever………”From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official: “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.” 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”

With today’s informational technology and relationships between national and local news gathering organizations, news travels at the speed of light. We recently witnessed the shootings in Aurora CO and then this past weekend in Oak Creek WI and you as the viewer saw the networks and the cable news networks devote time to covering these events. When these events happen during entertainment programming, we hear about it from our viewers. Depending on how they are affected, some are understanding about the interruptions, others are not! As broadcast licensees that use public airwaves, we are required to serve our communities and the coverage of breaking news falls under that provision.

When we break in during the day on CBS Daytime Dramas, we will typically reair them overnight. After they have aired on the West Coast, full episodes are later posted on http://www.cbs.com so that you can see them for free without commercial interruption. In the case of CBS primetime shows, if a show is missed completely, it will air overnight. There are special rules that govern the reair of shows that have partially aired prior to any news interruption. CBS11 and TXA21 are not permitted to stream any programs on our websites unless it is local and we are the copyright holder.

See you next time