Breaking news is hard to define, though the Associated Press has framed it as “news of transcendent importance.” Generally, it is news that provides information about an issue or an event the public did not already know, and it is increasingly tied to a feeling of “liveness.” Because breaking news situations evolve quickly, the ability of journalists to cover them depends in part on the sources a journalist trusts and can access. All too often, those sources are people who have historically held power in a community. This essay argues that an ethics of empathy would help journalists move away from privileging the perspectives of the powerful in breaking news coverage, thereby making space for alternate understandings of the situation.

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