Why Does Cable News Need Freshness Labels?

In today's Washington Post, Paul Farhi asks a question I've wondered: Why is it that every single story you hear about on cable is "developing," "breaking," or a "news alert?" Whatever happened to the regular TV news report?

This just in! There's no more news on TV, at least not on the cable news networks. Plain old news apparently just isn't good enough anymore, so TV news stories have been getting new and improved names.

President Bush's latest news conference? CNN labels it a "Developing Story." A car bombing in Baghdad? The banner on MSNBC reads, "Breaking News." A blown transformer in New York City? Fox News Channel is on it, with a graphic that announces, "Very Latest."

Sometimes a story is a "News Alert." Sometimes it's a "Bulletin." And sometimes the banner reads, "New Developments" (although if there are new developments in a "Developing Story," shouldn't it really say "Developing Developing Story"?).

The dizzying world of news labels raises many questions. Is it possible for a "Developing Story" to become "Developed," like a Polaroid picture or a post-adolescent woman? Does "Breaking News" ever become "Broken" (and if so, can it be "fixed")?

And can a "Developing Story" ever morph into a "Breaking Story" and vice versa? Or are they like oil and water, matter and antimatter, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger?

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