Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box


January 6, 2009

Breaking news live on the web… but still too late

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Media

I wish people would stop telling me the world of news has changed dramatically now breaking news can be found on the Internet.

Long before the Internet was a twinkle in the eye, breaking news was at home on radio and later television.

In fact even today breaking news can ... break ... far quicker on a live radio broadcast than any net-based newsroom can deliver.

I was one who watched the US presidential campaign winner Barak Obama deliver his victory speech in Chicago, via the Internet.

Several news organisations carried the speech, streamed live (ish) on their websites.

Even those broadcasts were several seconds behind the cable TV news channels.

I didn't have access to a radio at the time, but from previous experience I bet the TV was a few seconds behind the radio.

So how long as breaking news been breaking on radio.

I'll keep hunting for the first, but let me take you back 70 years to 3 September 1939, 11.15am British Summer Time to be precise.

UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had a nation tuned to their radio sets as he delivered the latest news on relations with Adolf Hitler's Germany.

The BBC's On This Day tells the story of Britain's request for German troops to withdraw from Poland by 11.00am that day, or else.

"I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and consequently this country is at war with Germany."

Within 15 minutes of the deadline passing the PM was breaking the news. That's pretty fast.

The newspapers probably had to wait until the next day to deliver the news but radio had the story live, as it happened.

Even back then, if the Internet had existed, it bet any so-called live stream would have been a few seconds delayed behind the radio.

As for text on any breaking news website, well somebody has to type in the words, and that takes time too.

Now I'm not knocking the Internet, but please stop telling me how it has had such a dramatic impact on breaking news.

If anybody knows of a breaking news event any earlier than this, please let me know.


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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.

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