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Canada Offers A Lesson On How Media Can Cover 'Breaking News'

Canada's CBC broadcast of the terrorist shooting in their Breaking News coverage gave the U.S. media a master class in calm and collected reporting.

James West at Mother Jones wrote a great piece about how well and mannered the CBC covered the Canada shootings Wednesday, as compared to how the American media uses the ridiculous "Breaking News" hyped up nonsense that gives us no information, but hopes you'll stayed tuned anyway because they tell you it's "Breaking News."

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation today gave a master class in calm, credible breaking-news reporting.

Anchored by the unflappable Peter Mansbridge, news of the shootings in Ottawaunfolded live on the CBC much like they do here in the United States: lots of sketchy details, conflicting reports, unreliable witnesses, and a thick fog of confusion. All of that was familiar. What was less familiar was how Mansbridge and his team managed that confusion, conveying a concise and fact-based version of fast-moving events to viewers across Canada and the world.

This live bit of level-headed reporting by Mansbridge, from around 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, should be given to journalism students around the country. It basically contains everything you need to know about why CBC did its audience proud:

MANSBRIDGE: And so, the situation is, as we say, tense and unclear. And it's on days like this—we keep reminding you of this and it's important—it's on days like this, where a story takes a number of different pathways, a number of changes occur, and often rumors start in a situation like this. We try to keep them out of our coverage, but when they come, sometimes from official sources, like members of Parliament, you tend to give them some credence. But you carefully weigh it with what we're also witnessing. It's clear that the situation is not over. It is clear the police are in an intense standby situation and continue to be on the lookout, and until somebody blows the all-clear on this we will continue to stay on top of it and watch as the events unfold.

The broadcast was deliberative and deferential to the facts even when they were sparse. Exacting and painstaking, but never slow or boring, Mansbridge weighed the credibility of every detail, constantly framing and reframing what we knew and, most crucially, how we knew it. He literally spoke the news as it happened, using his experience not to opine nor fill the gaps in his knowledge, but to provide the necessary support for his team's reporting.

If you tune in to Wolf Blitzer, Brett Baer or Thomas Roberts during a mass shooting here, they put on reporter after reporter, who have no new information at all, but are forced to try and answer questions that lead to unfounded rumors being broadcast as possible fact,which then in turn are revealed as being false.

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