The chyron is also known as the “lower third,” as in the lower third of a television screen during a news broadcast. Legend has it that some self-proclaimed genius executive at a cable news network decided viewers wouldn’t mind losing this screen real-estate and that it would be better used for trite headlines.
The original logic, it goes, is that viewers who see news on the muted television screens at airports would have some idea of what was going on in the world, simply by skimming the headlines on the screen every few minutes.
Unfortunately, this novel idea has lead to some of the most embarrassing errors and laughable screen captures in all of journalism as graphics departments rush to find cutesy new ways to fill this space. It has also allowed for an event that a news organization got a press release about two weeks ago to suddenly earn the title breaking news.
In fact, anything from a hotdog eating contest to the house majority leader blowing his nose can be dubbed breaking news, at least, according to the flashy news chyrons that occupy the lower third of the screen. According to these chyrons, breaking news occurs about evert 2.5 minutes.
Unfortunately, the frequency at which these chyrons change, means that instead of being a tool to inform the public at airports and restaurants, news chyrons are more often than not a distraction utility for those trying to watch the news with the volume on.