I disagree that it's necessarily "black-hat," in the ethical sense. It certainly does not seem "black-hat" to me from the SEO point of view. I am fascinated by the concept of newsjacking and, from the way it's described, I can think of plenty of legitimate and indeed ethical uses of this tactic.
I think ultimately this boils down to what's the unique value in the content you're going to offer. If there's a developing news story and it happens to involve something a site owner/webmaster is particularly knowledgeable about, then filling a content void in a timely manner genuinely offers something of value to other sites. In those cases, a link back to the site is a well-deserved reward.
However, if the content pushed out is low-quality, factually inaccurate or the webmaster knows little about the topic, then it's pretty clear it's being done solely for the links and its spammy. I think it's going to be real time-consuming to be monitoring the news 24-7 just to find topics to generate low quality content about, so it doesn't seem like something you could scale out that much, even if you wanted to.
But if a breaking news-story is in your niche and content wheel-house, I think the timing is a moot point. Every topic has a certain "peak" demand for info on it and lifecycles for topics vary. When you publish your content doesn't seem to me to be an ethical issue - the accuracy and quality of the content does, however.