Breaking news is neither

All the news services offer BREAKING NEWS ALERTS sent to my email or phone. I am a sucker for these things, because I think they will provide only the real zingers, and right away.

Unfortunately they never work. What I want is JAPAN INVADES AGAIN or PRESIDENT REVEALED AS FREDONIAN AGENT or AIDS CURED.

What do I get? The resignation of athletic coaches, the leaked possibility of the announcement of some politician’s retirement, some celebrity did something, someone who has been decrepit for a decade dies, Christmas occurs.

With a moment’s thought it is clear how this happens. Someone says “we shall have breaking news alerts” and everyone knows what this means; it means the big stories I want. There are not very many of these. Maybe none for months! Meanwhile they notice that each one of these alerts creates a crapload of traffic to the website.

Eventually the marketing people will lobby for more frequent alerts, and they will start adding less shocking stories, and it will get more watered down. Finally there will be an “alert cycle” that is nearly a schedule, and someone will sell ad packages including the alerts. At this point not as many people rush to the site after an alert, but it’s still more than typical traffic, and that is what counts.

And that is also why someday Christmas will last six months.

In better news, I had a hell of a good plate of brown rice with saffron tonight.

How are you all?