Breaking news, just wait five hours

It was supposed to be a quiet night Sunday night. I was on the late shift, which ends when the final edition of the paper gets typeset at 1:30am. With no Habs game and little breaking news, everything was done early. The middle edition was done an astonishing 20 minutes early because we just ran out of stuff to do.

Shortly after midnight, alerts started coming on the news wires: an explosion in the Moscow subway, with dozens possibly dead. Doing the calculation that one dead in Montreal is the equivalent of dozens dead in a European city, which is the equivalent of hundreds dead in China or a third-world country, we start preparing space for a brief about it.

Within minutes, reports of a second explosion at another Moscow subway station. This is terrorism, my colleague tells me. While I can’t imagine any other explanation, I’m not comfortable making that call myself. Still, we scrap a piece about New York rescinding its ban on beekeeping to put the story there, and I work on getting it online.

I put the TV on CNN and … nothing. It’s showing a rerun of Larry King Live (with Ryan Seacrest filling in). MSNBC isn’t showing anything new either. CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, RDI, LCN, all showing recorded programming. The only hint of what has just happened comes on the CNN ticker, inviting us to get more information during American Morning … at 6am, five hours later.

Eventually, CNN cut in briefly with breaking news. Others may have as well while I wasn’t watching. But it was clear they were all going to wait until morning before giving any live information that can’t be fit into the news ticker.

Realizing that I’d forgotten a news channel, I turn to BBC World News. It’s morning there by now (albeit very early morning), and they’re reporting live, even getting analysis from experts on what little information they have.

Apparently, things weren’t much better in Russia itself, where TV news also wasn’t reporting live on the attacks. Only the English-language Russia Today (which I didn’t know about before Sunday night) provided live coverage, and I was quickly streaming it on my computer.

In the end, the stories for online and print were pieced together from reports from various wire services. I finally left for home at 2:30, reminded that while all-news networks say they offer news 24/7, it doesn’t mean their news departments are running at full-steam during all those hours.

6 thoughts on “Breaking news, just wait five hours

  1. Jim P

    Gets the adrenaline going on a quiet night.

    Have you seen the billboard advertising CJAD breaking news. I am sure they were on it – you should have tuned in…

  2. adsf

    does that mean that there are no real live anchors on ctv news / cbc newsworld from 12 AM to 6 AM …which is usually
    a dead zone for news ?

    this story should be on all day long but even the bbc / cnn don’t care .

    maybe people in russia don’t have enough people on social media sites so the media can grab their photos / videos of the incident

    something like that happens here in any major city … they have 1000’s of photos / videos the big networks can use all day

  3. David Pinto

    Of course, back in the day, before Canwest Global pulled the wire-service plug, you could have had wire-copy from The Associated Press.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      AP wouldn’t have given us any more details. Both wires were reporting as quickly as they could get information from Russian officials.

      Between Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Bloomberg and New York Times, there wasn’t exactly a lack of wire services to turn to, but they all had the same information.

  4. Ricky Leong

    Indeed, BBC World had the story almost right away — that’s what I was mainly watching. Their first reports came within minutes of the first wire service bulletins.

  5. Tim

    I’m surprised that CNN wouldn’t cut to its international feeds. I know they also tend to play recorded content (God knows BBC World does) but it seems to me they have live hourly bulletins, which suggests to me someone is manning the fort in the news dept.


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