The need for more mindful reporting

Having a background in journalism I still find it hard not to read, listen to or watch news, no matter how depressing it might be.

I recetly said to my husband “what’s happened to the ‘Good News Story’ segments they did almost every night during the pandemic?”

But over the last couple of nights we’ve seen stories that have really missed their mark, two in particular.

When writing a news story the key thing to ask yourself is ‘what’s the story?’

What are the most important facts to get across to your audience?

That will generally be your ‘lead’ – the hook and start of your story.

But the other night we were led into a story about a sonic boom being heard across the US Capital. Sounded interesting…

It went on to talk about the pilot of a small plane being unresponsive so jets were sent in to intercept it, and it later crashed into mountains in Virginia.

Say what…?

Both my husband and I were amazed.

What happened to the pilot? Surely an out of control plane was the story here, and what about those onboard, were there any passengers – are they ok?

The next day we read that four people had been onboard and there were no survivors from the crash.

In a tragic story like this we should put the people first, not a sonic boom!

That essentially was a by-product of the story.

Then, just last night, we saw a story about thick smoke covering New York and potential health risks.

The pictures were impressive – but my first thought was, well what’s caused this?

I guessed before the reporter told us in the very last line of the story, that it was from the horrific wildfires raging in Canada at the moment.

Just imagine what the smoke and situation is like for the Canadian people in the middle of all this?

Officials say it could be their worst wildfire season on record.

There have been mass evacuations in Quebec province.

The fact that that story (the fires) didn’t make the bulletin, but the smoke in New York did seems completely wrong.

Maybe it’s assumed we knew about the fires (I did) but you can never assume this about your audience.

In a world of clickbait it seems more of our news is missing the actual story for the sake of something quirky or some great pictures.

TV news relies on good pictures – no pictures, no story – but when you have pictures of the whole story (plane crashing + sonic boom, wildfires + smoke over NY) surely it’s better to prioritise the important elements first?

These stories weren’t just reported like this on Australian TV.

Look online it’s the angle so many journalists took, across all media, around the world.

So maybe it’s me, maybe I’m wrong…

Or perhaps newsrooms should be a bit more mindful of the bigger picture and tell the whole story.

I’m now going to sit outside and look at some trees to calm my mind!


Scroll to Top