Difference between spot news and breaking news

Spot news and breaking news are often used interchangeably. Of course there are similarities among them but there’s also a thin line dividing them. Not all spot news events are breaking news stories. So how are these two concepts different?

News is an account of a current event given by a journalist and published or aired through a medium. News could be spot news or breaking news. Both concepts refer to accounts of current events.

Breaking news is a sudden occurrence which is often reported as it is happening. Oftentimes, details are sketchy. Breaking news is reported to alert the public of an unfolding development. Follow up reports could come later. Here is an example of breaking news;

A bloody fight has broken out between two factions of road transport workers union in Lagos state over who controls motor parks in the state.

Gunshots could still be heard as people are running helter skelter.

You can see that the event is still unfolding. It is sudden and it is coming very fresh to the audience.

Here’s a second example’

A prominent politician (names withheld) has just died in Nigala hospital.

Doctors broke the news few minutes ago saying it was due to an undisclosed illness.

Details will follow later.

The breaking news has no time for extra facts. It is served hot to the public. It can even displace the days already packaged news especially if it comes after the deadline for news production.

The spot news is also an account of a current event but it could come a few hours after the event has occurred. The spot news could accommodate extra minutes or hours to provide further details about the event. All breaking news could be spot news but not all spot news are breaking news. The spot news is reported from the scene of the event by the reporter. It is not always as sudden as breaking news. It is called spot news because it is based on what has happened at a specific venue where the reporter is sending in the stories from.

Examples of spot news;

Two factions of road transport workers union clashed this morning in Lagos state over struggle for who controls motor parks in the state.

You can see the story is not being reported as it is happening yet it is still very current.

Here’s a second example;

A prominent politician (names withheld) died in the early hours of today after a brief illness.

The politician who was a former member of the House of Representatives returned from India last month where he spent three months in the hospital over an undisclosed illness.

This second example contains more details than in the breaking news. The spot news is not always as quick as the breaking news.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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