I hear it every day. I suppose you do as well. Breaking news! This is the short phrase used to grab our attention. Even after hearing it for a dozen years—at least—I still get sucked in…once in a while.
The fact of the matter is, very seldom is it breaking news—at least, not as I would define it. To me, breaking news should be something I’ve never heard before. It should, as a bare minimum, be something that the least informed individual on the planet probably hasn’t heard. Sometimes, it doesn’t even rise to the level of that low bar.
Statute of Limitations
I heard it this morning and wondered to myself, “When does the statute of limitations run out on breaking news?” Is it ten minutes, five hours, three days? If something occurs on a Friday, it’s breaking news until Tuesday. It’s as if no-one listens to the news over the weekend.
We’ve become a news-hungry society. We act like we’re news starved. We aren’t, of course. We aren’t even close to that. We pound it away into our mental storehouses like a kid chomping on a quarter pounder from MacDonald’s. We can’t seem to get enough.
Even when we’ve gotten the entire picture, we tune in to see how everyone else is analyzing and/or redefining what we already know. If we don’t, we’re afraid we’ll miss a clue or get it wrong altogether.
The Six O’Clock News
When we were kids, we had something called the Six O’clock News. It lasted a half an hour, then Walter Cronkite would tell us, “And that’s the way it is,” or Huntley and Brinkley would say, “Goodnight, Chet—Goodnight, David.” Then, it was over until the next evening. If it was a Friday evening, there was no more news to speak of until Monday night at six o’clock. Today, we’ve got it flaming at us 24/7/365 (or 366, depending upon the year). We’ve got hourly news, headline news, and sporting news—all day and all night.
I have to admit, I’m just as hooked as anyone—well, maybe not anyone. But I watch a lot of it. I find, however, that I have to watch several flavors just to make sure I’m getting a balanced view. I have to watch one network to get the liberal version, another to take in the conservative viewpoint, and yet another to see what the folks who attempt to take it straight down the middle are saying. Frankly, it can be exhausting.
The biggest problem with all this—as I see it—is that we’re so busy getting the breaking news, we find there is little time left to get the Good News. By the Good News, I’m referring to the Gospel—a word that literally means good news. It’s a term that comes from the old English word, godspel.
I teach a class every Wednesday evening about the Good News. Frankly, it keeps me far more current than any breaking news. I highly recommend it to you.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]