Breaking news banners on television have been replaced by audiences checking in on social feeds. First comes a look at X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, or Facebook; then they might go to a TV screen or a news website.
A 2022 Pew Research Center study found nearly 40 percent of social media users receive most of their news from a social media platform. With most users on mobile devices, news organizations work to provide their audience with the most up-to-date information as quickly as possible.
During an ONA session on Friday, CNN editors Leinz Vales and Adrienne Vogt explored the different ways breaking news can be covered and which tools are working best to keep audiences up-to-date.
“It’s providing breaking news that is competent and that’s always flowing,” Vales said. “I consider live updates kind of living in 3D, always changing because the story is always [changing].”
One factor CNN uses when determining if a story is breaking is to look at audience impact.
Vales and Vogt used the Canadian wildfires to illustrate their point. In Canada, five people died and 250,000 were displaced. In the United States, New York and many other areas on the U.S. East Coast reported poor air quality and saw an increase in people with asthma making trips to the emergency room.
Vogt added that the industry still strives for accuracy and ensures reporters take time to verify and edit their work on breaking news.
Vales said when dealing with misinformation in social media posts—specifically on fast-moving stories—it’s crucial to be transparent with readers and viewers.
“If something is incorrect, we always provide an editorial note letting the audience know what changed, why it changed and where they can go for more information,” Vales said. “We have to be flexible to make sure that the reporting is accurate, and it’s providing the right information that the reader needs to know.”
There was also a discussion on live updates and the importance of ensuring breaking news coverage is not only timely but accurate.
Vales said live updates on social media are great for breaking news coverage because they eventually bring the audience back to your main platforms, adding that live updates can help readers who want to stay on top of the latest information.
CNN uses specific wording to assure the audience that the story is being advanced as new information arrives.
“You read a one-liner breaking news, you have questions and we want to make sure that we’re answering those questions,” Vales said. “The challenge is making sure that that happens.”