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Topic section: Bad news travels fast?
Bad news travels fast?
Today, all news, whether good or bad, travels with equal rapidity. Advances in the technologies of news gathering and dissemination have rapidly eroded the delay between something happening and it being reported as ‘news’.
Picture: 01B_kate3-copy.jpg
Kate Adie – BBC's chief news correspondent became one of the best-known faces on television for her reporting from the major wars of recent years.
Credit: Copyright © BBC

From the telegraph by way of radio, wirephoto and television to today’s satellites and the Internet, the history of news is characterised by the u

News, just like fruit and vegetables, is a perishable commodity that loses its value if it is not ‘fresh’

nending quest to ensure that news stories reach audiences as quickly as possible. Central to this is the assumption that news, just like fruit and vegetables, is a perishable commodity that loses its value if it is not ‘fresh’. Fuelled by technical innovation and driven by a combination of market forces and customer desire, news suppliers have always competed to be ‘first with the news’.
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Caricature from 'Vanity Fair' magazine of Baron Reuter, originally Israel Beer Josaphat (1816-1899), founder of Reuters News Agency.
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Today, however, we are presented with the possibility (and, in many cases, the actuality) of instant access to images and information from anywhere in the world. Digital technologies have effectively freed news from the constraints of both time and space and, in so doing, have opened up new opportunities and challenges both for news suppliers and consumers. Time, traditionally the journalist’s greatest enemy, becomes far less important. No longer fixed by the production schedules of ‘traditional’ media such as newspapers, radio and television, the concept of the ‘deadline’ becomes meaningless. With 24-hour news channels and the Internet, news provision becomes constant rather than episodic, and the ‘scoop’ loses its commercial value or is confined to specialist markets such as financial reporting. Breaking news stories can be picked up within seconds to be repackaged and carried by other news sources. On 20 March 2003, Sky News proudly boasted that it had beaten ITN in the race to be the first to break the news of the American attacks on Baghdad that heralded the outbreak of the Second Gulf War. Sky News’ winning margin? A mere thirty seconds.

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Topic section: News – does more mean better?
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News now flows constantly from websites and 24-hour news channels. To meet this insatiable demand, stories are constantly recycled. With the emphasis on producing material rather than accuracy, mistakes are made, sometimes with serious consequences for the organisations involved.  > more

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Topic section: ‘It’s news... but not as we know it’ – the future of news
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New technology and new media are rapidly changing the nature of 'the news'. In the future, the actual news stories will remain the same, but the way we receive this news will be very different.  > more
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