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Learned from the News

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Ignignokt: We just came from Christmas Caroling out in the woods.
Frylock: I just heard about the woods on the news... someone burned them down!

This is when a character learns some important and personal information about themselves or their circumstances from a public source such as a newspaper or News Broadcast. It is usually not a pleasant experience for the character, which is why, in Real Life, responsible government agencies try to contact and inform people of very bad news (such as the death of a relative) directly before releasing the news to the press.

Usually, this will also shock the subject's friends or relatives who also learn from the news. Sometimes, however, they may learn from the news before the subject does and may try hiding it (whether the news itself, or the broadcast) from said subject, either for good or ill reasons.

See also Coincidental Broadcast. While a Coincidental Broadcast is about the characters learning information important to advancing the plot in general, this trope deals with someone getting news of a personal nature from the news media. Dangerous examples may overlap with Endangering News Broadcast.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Lupin III ova "Is Lupin still burning?", after Lupin wrecks his own history, he wakes in bed with no recollection of his original one, until he sees the news with Zenigata chasing Goemon turned renegade assassin, restoring his memory of the past.

    Comic Books 
  • Red Robin: Tim gets a shock when Damian shoves a newspaper declaring Tim is engaged to Tam Fox under his nose. In this case, it was Tim's family (mostly just Damian, Dick found the whole thing hilarious) that was upset, thinking he'd gone and gotten engaged without telling them. In truth Tam panicked and told Vicky Vale they were engaged in response to the reporter's questions about what they were hiding and Tim's not actually engaged to anyone.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Etta learns about Eve Brown and Dorothy Lord's arrest as Nazi spies when the Daily Blade explicitly names them in an article about twenty-one people arrested for espionage. They all turn out to have been very lazily framed by Paula von Gunther as she pretends to cooperate with the FBI, in order for her to draw them into a false sense of security so she'll be able to escape.

    Films — Animated 
  • WALL•E: After WALL•E and EVE escape from the Repair Ward of the Axiom, a warning goes out of all public media outlets: "Caution, rogue robots. Caution, rogue robots." A security 'bot still image shows WALL•E and EVE grappling with her weaponized arm. EVE is aghast at having been handled this way while in hibernate mode, having sunk from malfunctioning to haywire. EVE glares at poor WALL•E and snarls his name, causing WALL•E to cower like a Henpecked Husband.
  • In The Rugrats Movie, Drew and Charlotte first learn Angelica is missing from Rex Pester before Stu and Didi have a chance to tell them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Discussed and averted in Defence of the Realm. Vernon's editor tells Vernon he should tell MP Dennis Markham about the story that's going to appear about him in the newspaper the next day, so Markham doesn't have to read about it first. Vernon is not happy about this but goes along.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In the mini-series on The Atlanta Child Murders, the family of one murder victim discovers their child has been murdered when a TV crew turns up to interview them. Their reaction is, unsurprisingly: Get Out!
  • Multiple people in The West Wing hear about that President Bartlet was shot by seeing breaking news bulletins on TV.
  • The Barrier: For cogs in the Propaganda Machine, the sole news channel and newspaper do amazingly good work of giving the protagonists news concerning them:
    • After saying goodbye to his sister-in-law Julia who needs to leave Madrid because she comitted a murder that's all over the news in self-defense, Hugo sees on a public screen that Julia's boyfriend was arrested and made the public scapegoat for the murder. This prompts Hugo to go looking for Julia and eventually find her just in time to help her talk the police into letting her go. The broadcast also allows Julia's mother and Hugo's brother to know what happened by the time they reach the family's appartment.
    • The fact that a resistance-operated transport that Julia almost took to leave Madrid had all its passengers gunned down by the police is discovered by everyone involved with it via the newspaper's front page.
    • The day after they stay at work late to be the waiters at a party organized by their employer, Hugo and Julia find out that one of the party's guests died from the news.
    • Hugo's employer, who briefly looked like he could become an ally among the elite, at some point refuses to give Hugo his daughter back after his (the employer's) wife has had her abducted for the second time and accepts to make a speech that will convince people to leave their children in custody of the state, who has nefarious purposes towards them. Hugo's disappointment results in him crossing the checkpoint out of the enclave for the elites while the speech is being made, and the presence of public screen at the checkpoint is how he discovers that his employer intended to use the speech to warn people of the government's true intentions and start a revolution all along.
  • Happens off-screen in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Cragen tells Stabler and Benson that the parents of a victim have just called him asking why they heard about their daughter's murder on the news. Stabler answers that they told the victim's sister and expected her to inform the rest of the family. Only she didn't have a sister.

  • In Hamilton, Alexander cheats on his wife, Eliza, with a woman named Maria Reynolds. After admitting to his three worst political rivals that he cheated on his wife and paid Maria's husband to cover it up he decides that they can't humiliate him by revealing what they know if he reveals it first. This stunning logic ends in him publishing "The Reynolds Pamphlet", in which he confesses everything about the affair to the general public. He does NOT bother telling Eliza about any of this before publishing it. (Note that in real life, Eliza did know about the affair before the pamphlet was published.)
    Eliza: You published the letters she wrote you... In clearing your name, you have ruined our lives

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The fourth case begins with Phoenix learning of Edgeworth's arrest are Gourd Lake.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Akira tries to keep the details of Ami's abduction a secret from her mother, as he worries that she'd become involved in the supernatural and be put in danger as a result. However, Natsumi learns anyway when a detective tells her all that they know, so Akira is forced to fill her in on the rest.

    Web Animation 
  • The Dorkly Originals sketch "Vision Wants to Be in the Avengers Movie" has Vision showing up on the set asking when he'll be needed. When Iron Man sheepishly tells him that he's not in the movie at all, Vision says the following:
    Vision: How about that? At least you told me personally. It would have sucked to - oh, I don't know - have seen it on Ain't It Cool News this morning. By myself.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of American Dad!, after Steve is manhandled by a gorilla at the zoo, Francine is quick to inform Stan that the news stated witnesses saw them messing with the gorilla.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: In "Super Hero", Shake's "idea" to spread local awareness of his alter-ego as The Fume by committing arson to the city, immediately spotted by Frylock on the news.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Millions", The Joker has inherited a large sum of money from a former criminal rival and has used some of it to bribe a psychiatrist into declaring him sane. He left his hench-girl Harley Quinn behind in Arkham Asylum, but she is confident he'll come back for her ... until Poison Ivy shows her the newspaper she'd been reading.
    Harley: "Joker seeks new hench-girl?" I'LL KILL HIM!!!!!
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "World Wide Wabbit", the friends try to keep Mr. Herriman from finding out that Mac and Bloo secretly recorded him doing a dance for Madame Foster, and the latter released the footage onto the Internet and is now viral. When Frankie sees a picture of Herriman in the newspaper, a game of Keep Away ensues to prevent him from seeing it; eventually, Eduardo eats the paper and Wilt suggests that he watch the news on TV. Unfortunately, the station's news team is in front of the house to do an interview — and they're live!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1" opens with Twilight getting a public announcement and invitation to her brother's wedding. This is the first she's heard about her brother's engagement, so she's not amused.
    Twilight: Yeah, great news. That I just got from a wedding invitation! Not from my brother, but from a piece of paper! Thanks a lot, Shining Armor. I mean, really, he couldn't tell me personally?
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In season one's "Dark Cupid," Ladybug kissed Cat Noir to break the spell he was under. He doesn't find out about it until season two's "Prime Queen" when Nadia uses a picture of it to prove they're secretly dating.

    Real Life 
  • In Chile, there were various financial scandals that involved Sebastian Davalos, the son of President Michelle Bachelet, between 2014 and 2015, that were revealed by the press. During that time, when Ms. Bachelet was asked by the subject, she only responded: "I was informed by the press." This scandal, known as "Caval Case"note , is one of the reasons why Chilean citizens haven't trusted Bachelet since then.note 
  • In 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey learned he had been fired from a TV news report announcing his dismissal, and mistook it for a prank until his staff ushered him to a private room to inform him of his firing officially.
  • From the next year of the same administration, Rex Tillerson found out he was fired as Secretary of State from the White House's Twitter posts.
  • Ricky Nelson's son Matthew learned that his father died in a fiery plane crash on New Year's Eve 1985 from coming across a radio station playing his dad's classic hit "Garden Party", then hearing the DJ announce that he was playing it in Nelson's memory. Rick's mother Harriet also learned about it from seeing it covered on the evening news. Despite the Buddy Holly case mentioned below, apparently the state of Texas didn't have any policies about notifying families first at the time.
  • There have been many cases of the casts of TV shows finding out that their series was canceled via seeing a news story about it.
  • A more positive example is that Big Bird performer Caroll Spinney claimed that he learned he was going to China to co-star in a TV special with Bob Hope when he just happened to hear a radio interview with Hope talking about it.
  • George Gershwin found out that he was supposed to write an orchestral piece to be debuted at a February 1924 concert by bandleader Paul Whiteman by reading a newspaper article which quoted Whiteman making that announcement. Whiteman hadn't bothered to tell Gershwin. On a few weeks' notice, Gershwin quickly cobbled together Rhapsody in Blue.
  • When Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, his wife, María Elena Holly, learned about it from a news reporter announcing it on TV. It was so devastating to her that the stress caused her to miscarry, directly leading US law enforcement to adopt a policy about not publicly announcing the names of deceased individuals until their loved ones are informed first.