What I Want from the News
I seek news sources I can trust to tell me what's important, not tell me what isn't important (unless clearly intended as lighter fare), not get fundamental facts wrong, not report in such a confusing way as that the salient facts aren't readily apparent, do give me sufficient context and background to draw a reasonable inference on the events (a failing of almost all "news" sources these days), and to seek to inform me in general -- not whitewash, not gloss to the point of zero information, not seek only to incite outrage and emotion (another huge and vast failing these days).
That was my response to an item Yonatan Zunger had posted to G+ back in July over an incredibly poorly written Associated Press headline re-broadcast as a "breaking!" Tweet, concerning the Dutch-originating Malaysian Air flight shot down over Ukraine:
BREAKING: Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven.
In fairness: AP apologized and issued a mea culpa for the Tweet.
There was much discussion of where the missing comma should have been inserted. I realized that it was actually two:
What's needed are two commas if the wording stands: "carrying bodies from Malaysian Flight 17 crash" is a parenthetical phrase.
So: Dutch military plane, carrying bodies from Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash, lands in Eindhoven
Better: Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 lands in Eindhoven
Still: Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 arrives Eindhoven
Less Awkward, most critical information first: Malaysian Airlines crash victim bodies arrive in Eindhoven on Dutch military plane
Is that last bit really necessary? Malaysian Airlines crash victim bodies arrive in Eindhoven
Maybe add back in the flight number: Malaysian Airlines flight 17 casualties arrive in Eindhoven
Or: Eindhoven receives Malaysian Flight 17 bodies
And we're at 46 characters from the original 96.
AP corrected their initial tweet with one close to my "Better":
CLARIFIES: Dutch military plane carrying Malaysia Airlines bodies lands in Eindhoven.
Another problem, of course is the "BREAKING" tag. As Megan Garber at The Atlantic poignantly put it, "Stop Calling Everything 'Breaking News,' Please (Part 5,264)"
A plane landed safely this morning; a dog bit a man. This is not breaking news. It is barely news at all. News outlets would do well to remember that.
(h/t Jim Douglas at the Plus for that.)
Yeah, CNN, with "Breaking" burned into video monitors in gyms and bars 'round the world, we're looking at you.
And NPR and BBC, with ... whatever you've been blathering about lately. Relevance. Heard of it?
What's the incentives failure that leads to this?
Adapted from a G+ comment a ways back (yeah it still burns me, happened to run across the post in a search earlier):