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Breaking News app
Screen shots of the Breaking News app. (App Store Photo)

Breaking News, the 24-hour-a-day online news site, is being shut down by NBC News, five years after the network acquired the small journalism startup. The news was shared in a series of tweets on Thursday by Cory Bergman, the Seattle-based general manager of the site and app.

Bergman said it was a breaking story that he hoped he would never have to report, and that the shutdown would be effective at the end of the year.

Breaking News logo
The Breaking News logo.

Breaking News, with more than 9 million followers on Twitter, employs about 20 people including editors, developers and a designer at locations in Seattle, New York, London, Chicago and Los Angeles. NBC employees would remain with the company until late January, the network said, and it is working “to find new roles for each of them, in News or elsewhere at NBCU.”

“We are committed to a culture of experimentation and innovation at NBC News Digital, and Breaking News was a product that embodied that spirit for more than five years,” Nick Ascheim, senior vice president of digital for NBC News, said in a statement on “However, experiments eventually need to sustain themselves and in this case, despite every effort, we just weren’t able to get there.”

Bergman said the Breaking News team were “believers in news that isn’t designed for clicks” but that the model didn’t fit with advertising. He thanked NBC for taking a “bold bet” and financing the site for so long.

The Twitter account @breakingnews was launched by Michael Van Poppel in 2007, according to a history blurb on the Breaking News site. The Msnbc Interactive Network took over the handle in a deal with Van Poppel’s BNO News in 2009. A small team inside Msnbc Interactive expanded real-time coverage to, mobile apps and new social channels.

The team grew into the standalone startup Breaking News, which was part of NBC’s acquisition of Msnbc Interactive in 2012, and eventually became part of the NBC News Digital Network.

Poynter also obtained a memo from Ascheim announcing the news:


We have made the difficult decision to close down Breaking News. As you know, Breaking News is a suite of digital products — including a site, mobile app and well-followed Twitter feed — that deliver smart and fast alerts, and has been supported by NBC News Digital for nearly 5 years.

Breaking News has built up a large following among journalists, government workers, industries whose success depends on accurate and fast news, and news junkies of all types from around the globe. Unfortunately, despite its consumer appeal, Breaking News has not been able to generate enough revenue to sustain itself. We have therefore made the difficult decision to close its operations so that we can re-invest that funding into NBC News’ core digital products to help us achieve our ambitious goals for those businesses.

Breaking News will cease operations by the end of this month. Cory Bergman and his incredibly talented team — in Seattle, LA, Chicago, New York and London — will remain with the company until late January, and we will be using the time between now and then to try and find new roles for each of them, in News or elsewhere at NBCU. We will also be working with Cory and team to incorporate the best of Breaking News’ features into other NBC News products.

I want to thank Cory and his team for all of their impressive and hard work, as well as their unyielding dedication to their craft.


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