How to break the news

By Bri Kirkham

Ball State University

Media leaders and content providers discussed the best ways to break news, as evidenced by viewers and analytics. They discussed what works, what doesn’t and the best tools to use to meet deadline. To find a comprehensive list of advice created by the panel, click here.


Thomas Brew, @ThomasBrew

Managing Editor,

On breaking the news: “I’d rather be hesitant and a little bit slow than to jump right on the first thing that doesn’t frankly smell that good.”

A tool to have:  It’s not a tool, but more of an attitude, it’s humility. On breaking news you don’t want to get ahead and be wrong. I would caution you all to double-check and to triple-check.”


Julie Westfall, @JulieWestfall

Real-Time News Desk editor, Los Angeles Times

On breaking the news: “One of the challenges in breaking news is letting your users know where you are in the story… This is one of the ways that we have tried to solve that problem, being very transparent with our users about what has changed in the story.”

A tool to have: “I know it’s 2015, but Twitter still is the main and best source of information for breaking news.”


Jim McClure, @JamesMcClure

Executive editor, York Daily Record

On breaking the news: “As we all know sometimes CMS take some time to update and, certainly, social media doesn’t have that problem.”

A tool to have: We’re increasingly interested in using gamification tools on breaking news, it’s a different way of presenting the news. We’ve been experimenting with Playbuzz and content tools, ways to tell stories differently on deadline.


Sachin Kamdar, @SachinKamdar


On breaking the news: “Your audience can actually change over the course of the day. That’s really important information to know when you’re thinking of real-time [news], and the big reason why is because that could inform how you’re producing content to match what stories are breaking or how that real-time news is going to reach your audience.”

A tool to have: Make sure you have enough screen real estate. Get another monitor if you don’t have two already, maybe get three because digesting all the information that’s coming in and having enough screen real estate to save room for the rest of your stuff is super important.”  


Mandy Jenkins, @MJenkins

Director of News, Storyful

On breaking the news: “We work with newsrooms so they can incorporate into their live coverage, so we have to be right. We absolutely, 100 percent have to be right… Newsrooms are relying on us to be correct.”


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