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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Alert - Breaking News Inbox Abuse

Anyone's inbox feel abused after Super Tuesday? I have signed up for many of the major cable and broadcast's breaking news email alerts. It is generally a helpful and timely feature that includes simple text formatted breaking news. In theory, at least.

Nothing radical here for how the big networks traditonally use email alerts. Just sending useful news notifications before it breaks in the mainstream (generally). I began to have my doubts on the value and goals of some of these when I got a breaking news email months ago that featured a college football upset. While I am a big college sports fan, I had to think to myself whether or not that qualified as breaking news. When I think of breaking news, I think of GIANT BOLD PRINT HEADLINES that make you stop for a second. Think Hurricane Katrina or former President Reagan passing away. Not LSU losing to Kentucky.

Well, last night destroyed breaking news email alerts for me. Between the 3 major networks that I subscribed to, all were guilty of major inbox abuse.

All, in my opinion, were driven by beating out their competition to email the news before the others do. While I respect the desire to break news, do I need 34 emails in a 4 hour span that announce state by state projected winners, with Democrats and Republicans each warranting their own breaking news alert.

No offense to West Virginia, but I don't need a breaking news alert on who won their Democratic primary, followed by 6 other state projected winners in the following 7 minutes. Would it take much restraint to bundle these winners at least into an hourly wrap-up? Obviously, these were driven by their own objectives, goals and priorities rather than by the best email experience for their subscribers.

The breaking news email alert for a major media empire should be a sacred cow. Last night, they sacrificed this for one night of outdoing their brothers-in-arms.

I did not go all the way and unsubscribe but they should consider themselves on double-secret email probation.


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