Responding To Breaking News: It’s An Art, Innit

December 18, 2011

R.F.Wilson writes from London: Are you one of those people who like to be the first to learn about the latest breaking news? You are, are you? But do you know how to respond to it and, more importantly, how to spread the word while looking knowledgeable like? ‘Cause it’s an art, innit, responding to breaking news,’ as one leading journalist has put it so eloquently recently.

The first thing about responding to breaking news is that you need to show some serious surprise. That is if you’re on your own, watching the box or listening to the radio in your car or in the shitter. You have to show respect to breaking news. A lot of people have been working their butts off, delivering breaking news to you. So once that lower jaw of yours comes back in place, having dropped on hearing some breaking news item, you’d better start reacting in a proper way. ‘I can’t believe it, I simply can’t believe it!’ would be a good response. Or: ‘Bloody hell, who could have thought it’ll happen!’ If you are an impressionable woman you can repeat, over and over again: ‘OMG, OMG, OMG!!!’ while laughing like a hyena or sobbing from all the excitement. And don’t be shy to spice up your response a bit, like saying: ‘F..king hell!’ or ‘S..t, f..k, s..t!’ Or it may be something original like, ‘Well let my dick fall off and then re-grow again!’

But the whole thing changes if there’s somebody else present at the time of breaking news, well, breaking. The proper way is to hear what the news is about, then summon the people into the room and say something like: ‘They just reported that s..t happens. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I bloody knew it all along.’ You can then look in a patronising way at the other person/s, as if saying: ‘Ah, you wouldn’t understand it.’ This would boost your cred immeasurably, proving that you know things that others don’t.

If you are alone at home and there’s no one around to tell about the breaking news, you can always call people you know and tell them what you’ve just learnt. You may choose from two options here: you may go for the exciting over-the-top option, sounding close to hysterical, to make the occasion just that little bit more special, both for yourself and for the people on the other end. It may run like this: ‘Darren, hi, it’s Wayne. You’ll never believe what they’ve just broke said on the box. It’s f..king unbelievable! You’ll never guess what it is in a million years. Come on, try to guess what they’ve just said…’

The teasing can continue for some time, before you finally tell what the breaking news was all about: ‘It’s the markets, Wayne, they’ve responded slowly to the gold prices rising! How weird is that!’ Or some other piece of news.

Or you can choose the patronising, ‘I knew it all along’ option, and tell your friend or relative that you’ve just heard that an earthquake had hit some shitty place thousands of miles away, saying that you knew all along that they had it coming. You may even add something along the lines: ‘Remember I told you it was coming? Well, it happened, just like I told you.’ Nobody would remember what you told them ages ago, so you’ll be able to get away with it.

It always makes sense to call several people after you learn the latest breaking news and share the exclusive information with them. Don’t forget, knowing your breaking news and breaking it first to your friends makes you look informed, sophisticated and well connected. It also fills your otherwise boring day with excitement and suspense.

If you feel particularly adventurous on some days, you may actually invent your own breaking news, by calling other people and turning the most conventional stories into hot, throbbing – if throbbing is the right word here – breaking news items. You can also exaggerate what has happened, as breaking news is often incorrect and resembles bulls..t, if you pardon the expression.

But one thing is important to remember: never be ashamed of picking up breaking news items from others and then pretending that you’ve learnt it first. The big TV and radio networks actually get most of their breaking news from other news providers, like news wires and online websites, so it makes the whole thing open for anyone who likes to be seen informed.

Breaking news is not about news really. But why not benefit from it, making your life just a little bit more exciting?

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