By: Courtney Walker

In a recent conversation with my father, we were discussing those ‘where were you when” moments. Dad always remembers where he was when JFK was assassinated or the excitement of the first time a man walked on the moon. Similarly, I can recall where I was for the Challenger disaster or the day Princess Diana died. Those moments truly were breaking news.

As the years went by, though, and the influx of online news, cable news and social media took over, the news cycle went from reading one morning paper and watching one half-hour of evening news on the big three networks to a 24/7, 365 day-a-year influx of information.  It can be a little hard to process when the human brain has a lot of other information to digest.

Here we are in 2018 and It seems as if a ‘breaking news’ alert comes through my newsfeed every two minutes. How hasn’t the term ‘breaking news’ become the boy who cried wolf? And how do communications professionals make sense of what is important and what is ‘fake news’? Well, there are mixed opinions about that, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The 24/7, 365-day-a-year cycle has evolved right along with me. Here are some tried-and-true tips from my 15+ years in the industry to keep you from breaking down when there’s breaking news:

  • Have a system:  This is really an individual preference, but it’s a good idea to have a game plan for the day. For me, it’s a morning scroll through the following – two large online national outlets like the NYT and NPR, NYC focused outlet WNBC, an industry trade publication, a hyper-local daily pub and a scroll through my social media feeds. After getting ready and out the door, it’s listening to NPR or a news radio program on the commute.  I repeat this process midday and in the early evening.
  • Manage your newsfeeds:Subscribe to what is pertinent to you and your clients. For example, a former client was in the aviation industry, so knowing the trade pubs and getting on their email lists was key.
  • Alerts and newsletters: Don’t go overboard! Choose your newsletters and alerts with caution and manage your preferences. Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe. I promise, you won’t miss anything.
  • Take it with a grain of salt and take a break: I am way too familiar with every journalist on CNN. Know that it’s ok to pick up a fiction book, see a non-documentary film or go for a run and listen to music.
  • Shut it down: Did you know that smartphones weren’t a ‘thing’ until about a decade ago? Generations survived before these devices, and they thrived. Ever heard of Walter Cronkite? Pick-up a real newspaper once in a while, have a conversation with a mentor, take pen to paper when you hear an idea. When the news breaks next time, you won’t.