The good news about bad news

Published: November 9, 2010

The tougher the times the more important quality reporting becomes

The last few days have been busy for people in the news media, with bomb blasts, a plane crash and the tragic final homecoming of a prominent political leader. There was a lot happening and it wasn’t all good news. Yet, paradoxically, the days were what we in the news media have come to term ‘good news days’.

Before you start shooting at me for being another one of those insensitive journalists who cash in on people’s miseries, let me assure you we in no way consider the news to be good.

Covering and reporting such tragic events is no easy feat. We have to keep our personal feelings and emotions aside. We don’t have time to be shocked at the enormity of a disaster or show disbelief at who in the world would target worshippers at a mosque.

No sir, we have to be on our toes and get to work immediately. The reason – because, you, the readers and the viewers expect us to deliver all the information we have as soon as we can and in the best way we can. And it is you who anxiously seek the ‘bad news’.

So, days with a lot of bad news become days that people turn more to the media, and that gives us a chance to deliver – hopefully responsibly.

Hence by extension, ‘bad news’ equals a ‘good news day’ for the media. It’s when the flow of the news is fast enough to fill the airwaves, the news space and get more hits on the website.

It’s the day when you do not have to go hunting for new and exciting stories; when your boss isn’t angry at you for not keeping things moving and when you have the maximum number of visitors on the website.

It’s the day when the old maxim ‘bad news sells’ is proven true. But it’s also the day when despite the buzz and excitement of working on a big story, there is a nagging sensation inside, hoping that as you write those stories, you do not lose the human that was once sensitive to the pain and shock that accompany such news events.


Naureen Aqueel

A Karachi based journalist working as subeditor on the web desk of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Good to hear that from a journalist.Recommend

  • parvez

    When you say today ” and it you (viewer) who anxiously seeks the bad news”. I completely disagree with you on this. When day in and day out and most often many times a day we get nothing but bad news, trust me the common man in Pakistan does not seek bad news.
    He actually hungers for a spot of good news, even a win in cricket is welcome, its that desperate.Recommend

  • Faisal Arshad

    I think news making and news breaking do not qualify as the best noble works of the present times, at least in our part of the world. The idea ‘ no news is good news’ speaks much in the instance of our society where news are more part of the problem, rather than solution. Recommend

  • Tauseef Razi Mallick

    @ Parevz & for ALL: Actually you only think that you are overdone by BAD news, but your inner instinct will still make you sit in fort of TV if something more BAD happens, its obviously the audience which decide the run down for a TV channel– Trust me.. We want sensation, in fact we love it… If there is none, we don’t even watch news.. On a day full of BAD news, your stomach may get full, but next morning the appetite is on, notice it.. Though we are always occupied with huge issues & problems yet our desire for BAD news never ends, thats the irony, and it does prevail in our society on a mass level, you just have to understand it.Recommend

  • irfan urfi

    Good Point of view express !Recommend

  • Khuram

    Media has contributed a lot towards the aim of terrorists.Some silly reporting through people unfit for the job who dramatise the situation to the glee of perpetrators.This is further made look highly silly by standard querries from anchors.The terrorists must be very pleased with our media persons; electronic only. Some computer animations are downright out of place and crual.Recommend

  • sidra rizvi

    naureen i love u :DRecommend