Looking at news historically, like pre-telegraph historically, where people would hop on a horse and ride out to relay some news … “first” might be measured in days or weeks, I can certainly see the advertising advantage of being first by such a large margin. But as communication technology advanced, being “first” gives us “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN”: something that is just outright wrong because accuracy was sacrificed for speed (well, and proof that bias in reporting is not a new phenomenon … the Chicago Tribute was hardly complimentary of Truman throughout the election run-up).
Now that ‘first’ is by a few minutes (there are people at each news org monitoring other news outlets, and a few minutes later a story will be up on NYT saying “WaPo reports …”), yeah I don’t much care who was first. I’d rather hear the real story once than waste time hearing twelve iterations of an emerging story.
There’s some egotism to “needing” to hear news first. Israel decides to launch missiles at Gaza … I feel bad for the people getting bombed, but it isn’t like I can ring up Rivlin and tell him to stop. I’m not a doctor who can go out and start treating the injured. Apartment building burns down in London. Still not a doctor, don’t have a whole lot of fire fighting experience, and I’m a thirteen hour flight from handing out water and blankets to the displaced. Sure, there are actions I can take — donate money, contact my elected representatives, volunteer talents I do have that provide value remotely … but I can do any of those things three hours later too.