Yet it shouldn’t be commentary uber alles. There are some stories audiences deserve to learn as soon as news producers do. If there’s been a terror attack, for example—or a disaster of any kind, or any bit of important news—by all means, TV news organizations should dust off their BREAKING NEWS chyrons. But break news judiciously; don’t cry wolf with that glaring BN tag. Think of this year’s campaign coverage: Very little of what passed (laughably) as BREAKING NEWS leading up to the election—Breaking: Palin in Pittsburgh! Breaking: McCain to Give a Town Hall in Toledo!—was actually, you know, breaking. (Nor, for that matter, was it really news.) So use anchors and correspondents for a higher purpose. Let the Web handle the dynamic stories, the stories that require constant updates and changes and shifts and corrections. Let television be the home of journalism that is rigorous and well-researched and thoughtful and deeply reported, of journalism that benefits from the editorial restraint that comes from thinking through ideas before they’re aired. Let the Web be about process; let TV be about product.
Tomorrow: part two