break the news
break the news
- to make something known to everybody.
- to tell someone the bad news.
- to inform someone of new, important information.
- to disclose new information publicly.
- We are going to have to break the news to the kids that the concert has been cancelled.
- I can’t wait to break the news to my family that I am having a baby!
- They just broke the news online that there was a mass shooting in Oregon.
- It was very hard to break the news of that catastrophic accident to the families of the victims.
The idiom “break the news” may have roots going back to the medieval messenger who would bear a message in the form of a roll of sealed parchment. Opening this message would break the seal, and thus break the news to the recipient. The expression “break a matter,” meaning to reveal some new information, has existed since the 1500s. However, the most common usage of this idiom has come into use in journalism and the radio and television industries.
The first codification of this concept was in 1906 by the Associated Press when the wire wanted to impart news that transcended anything else in the news cycle. This led to the use of the terms “flash” and “newsflash.” More directly, if a compelling or urgent news event took place right before printing, newspapers would have to break their front-page layout to try and fit the new headline and article of this in and “break the story.”
The term “breaking” was also used in early broadcast radio when affiliate stations could “break into” television network feeds to announce a plane crash, a building fire, or some other major disaster. They would interrupt regular radio or TV programming. You might be watching your favourite sitcom on TV when an announcer would break in and say, “We interrupt our regularly scheduled program…” and a news report would follow to alert the public of a crucial event currently taking place. It eventually became commonplace to hear news hosts say, “We now bring you breaking news…”
At some point, “breaking news,” which entailed being the first news source to share a newsworthy story with the public, evolved into the idiom “break the news,” used in conversation to tell someone something new and important.