Soapbox: Bad News is Good News?

by - September 08, 2012

This past week was a rough news week. We've had so many sad and depressing stories, it's nearly impossible not to let them get to you.

In one day alone, we had a multiple-victim shooting, police standoff and a fatal car accident in which the victim was trapped in her burning car.

On that day, I posted a status that read: "Shooting, standoff and now a person is trapped in a car that's fully engulfed in flames. I'm gonna need for this day to end already. Sheesh."

The whole intention of the status was that too many bad things had happened in the day and it needed to end so nothing else horrible would happen. However, not everyone took it that way and I got a kind of condescending comment about how the people involved in all three of those incidents was surely having a worse day than me.

Really? You think I don't know that? As a journalist I am acutely aware of all the bad shit that's happening in my viewing area, not to mention the rest of the country and elsewhere around the world. It's part of my job.

Another day this week, a 4-year-old boy was fatally mauled by a dog. On yet another day, three teenagers were killed in a terrible car accident. In both of those instances, my reporters ran into opposition. I can understand not wanting to talk about it, but is there really any need for rudeness?

What people fail to understand is that these are the type of stories we don't like to cover. The situations are always awkward, and we are well aware of the fact that we're intruding. But it's our job.

There seems to be this idea that journalists thrive on this type of carnage, but that's a misconception. Sad stories about someone's loss are not our idea of a juicy story. The 'bad' news we'd rather cover is corruption, scandal - something that actually takes a little bit of investigative work.

So the next time you blast a member of the media for being insensitive, remember that they're just doing their job and chances are they don't want to be in the middle of this sad situation just as much as you don't want them there.

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  1. People want to hear about the wrecks, killings, and other things that happen but they are not willing to admit it. They like to ask in hush tones or gossip about it and then spread what they do not know.
    They also enjoy slapping the media around for what they cover, what they don't cover, and for what they want them to cover more or less of.
    I suppose it is human nature to want to see or hear bad stuff and then complain when you do but also complain when you don't.
    I know for a fact that people complain about the gushy, sweet stories and say things such as isn't there any more important worthy news to cover.
    There is no satisfying the public. My rule of thumb is to try to do the moral decent thing and continue about my business.
    Your reporters do a really good job. And the station provides good coverage. So THANKS for doing a thankless job.
    Last but not least I almost got into a "let me punch you in the face" situation. I tried to be professional but afterall I am your mama. They do however understand some things a little better. I took her to 7th grade. :))))

  2. I've known you at least two years, Ashton, and we've discussed this type of thing before. In my experience working in television news I found that many people have a love/hate relationship with news media. They have an insatiable appetite for bad news and expect you to dole it out for their consumption, but they also like to kill the messenger whenever possible. I think I told you this a long time ago but I'll repeat it. In a misguided campaign to offer a "balanced" newscast and give the viewer relief from the glut of "fear and loathing' stories, my station once instituted a daily segment called "good news." The anchors turned their frowns upside down and wore a bright smile as they introduced stories aimed at making us forget the previous ten minutes of horror and feel happy again. The problem is that good news is a purely subjective term. One man's good news is often another man's bad news.

    Just keep doing your job to the best of your ability. You need thick skin to survive in this business because there will always be people who find fault with you and few if any of your good deeds will go unpunished.