On the value of “bad” news

I was that kid in college.

The one who had done all the reading before class started, had completed an outline of the chapters, and probably had gotten a jump on next week’s assignment too. I liked to be prepared.

As a result, I received all the dirty looks my class had to offer when I was the only one not groaning when the professor decided to throw out a pop quiz over the reading that only I had completed.

The few times I was tempted not to do my reading in advance, I would remember those groans and those looks of terror on my classmate’s faces as they tried to recall dates, names, and events they had never read about it. Something about that terrified me into reading before class, no matter how boring the topic or how late at night I started.

To me, this concept carries over into so much of what we do as professionals in the hydropower industry, and highlights the role we at PennWell play in keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the industry.

We report on the entire hydropower market, and try to provide balanced, informative, and useful information that helps you do your job better. One aspect of that is sometimes covering the “unhappy” hydropower news. What comes to mind is the story we posted right after Christmas of a death at the Pinto Dam construction site.

As a journalist in business-to-business media, writing about a death at a dam is up there with writing about dam failure or a similar catastrophe – I simple don’t want to do it. It’s difficult to write about dam removal, failures, injuries, deaths or any other negative issue in the industry when we are able to spend the bulk of our writing time demonstrating all the highlights, the “good” news of the industry.

Our goal is not to report biased news however, and as uncomfortable and saddening as it may be, these pieces of “bad” news play an important part.

Harkening back to my original example, part of our role here at HydroWorld.com is to give you the reading in advance. While no one likes to think about such things happening at their own plants, they are risks of the industry. As such, we have committed to providing you with the best coverage we can so that you can hopefully learn from each and every situation, good or bad, and pass any pop quiz you may face at your own plant. Each event is a great opportunity to dissect what has occurred and how it could have been prevented, thus providing you with usable, relevant content to protect your assets and your people.

Put that way, no news is ‘bad’ news – instead, it is another piece of relevant, useful information that helps you do your job better.

Who knew that being that kid in college would ever pay off! 

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