To say that something is wrong with the way news is reported in Pakistan, would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. When a bulk of the reportage relies on scandal, and spectacle, the salient facts of a story always suffer. And unfortunately, this has been the trend in Pakistan for the past couple of years. Television news channels blast headlines into homes with rapid succession, with their goal being speed rather than accuracy. On the other hand, their online presence indicates that click-bait culture is impacting even the most high-brow media houses.
Perhaps even more unfortunately though, now is the worst time for such practices. Pakistan is at the cusp of so many major changes. And at such a time, the news has to be clear, factual and unbiased. Values that resonate at the core of Anam Khan’s daily newsletter, ‘The News Run’
Home and Away
Because of her educational background, Anam Khan has always been interested in communication and writing. She studied English Literature at Smith College, and Strategic Communications at Columbia University, and after completing her studies, worked extensively in communication related positions. Because of this, the idea of a news related venture intrigued her. Particularly, when she found herself shuttling between Pakistan and the States.
In an incredibly liminal space, Anam felt that she was slowly but surely, losing touch with Pakistani news. Particularly when, as she explains it, the news cycle in Pakistan is, “rapid and complex”, and often consists of written articles that are convoluted and lengthy. So, inspired by American news digests and services that offered readers a quick break down of the day’s headlines, Anam started The News Run; a daily e-newsletter that breaks down Pakistan’s major headlines.
Cutting Through The Noise
After a “soft-launch” in March 2018, when she only geared it towards her own friends, Anam has since taken her idea to a wider audience. Although inspired by her own experience as a Pakistani living abroad, Anam soon realised that The News Run had an audience in Pakistan as well. “When, some of my friends in Pakistan started signing up, and they started sharing it with their friends,” she explains, “then I realised that this is a service that people already living in Pakistan need too…people made it clear that they needed help cutting through the noise.”
And while cutting through the noise of a Pakistani news cycle is a herculean task, it is one that Anam and her team do really well. Each day, an issue of The News Run is delivered to your inbox, with the top stories broken down into segments. Almost immediately, you notice that unlike typical news articles, The News Run ensures that you have ample historical context. This is something that was very important for Anam. She feels that often, Pakistani newspapers overwhelm readers. As she explains it, “with Pakistani newspapers, they’re good at putting the news out there, but I feel like they’re not describing it in a way that makes it simple for people to understand, unless that person spends a good twenty minutes reading the whole article and then doing their own background research.” So, each issue of The News Run gives you the main story, and then briefly explains to you why this story matters, and what progress, if any, has taken place. In a nutshell, you are informed rather than overwhelmed.
Cards On The Table
Something else that she hopes to channels with her service is objectivity. As an avid news reader, Anam understands that the media can be, and has been known to be, biased. “Sometimes,” she says, “I feel like news articles in Pakistan have their own leanings.” And, at the risk of being presumptuous, I think I can safely say that recently, these ‘leanings’ have become painfully obvious. And Anam understands the importance of being objective when reporting facts.
“What I try to do with The News Run,” she says, “is just make it as objective as possible. So that people just know the news they need to know. And I’m not trying to formulate an opinion for them.”
Glass Half Full
When asked about what she feels help her newsletter stand out in particular, Anam points to her “good stuff” section, which highlights positive news stories. Be it an entrepreneurial venture, or a cricket tournament, the daily News Run always ends on a positive note. On the one hand, this is of course a great attempt at highlighting some of the most positive aspects of Pakistani life, something that Anam also promotes on her website by featuring interviews with Pakistanis accomplishing some pretty special things.
But, it is also a welcome note to end on, because often, on an international stage the worst stories emerging from the country, are used to paint a one-dimensional narrative about Pakistan. When really, there are positive stories to focus on.
Among those that she features on her site, and newsletter, Anam’s own story is one that has the potential to inspire. Many of us have an idea, talent, and even resources, but lack that vital spark that propels us to leap into action. And, Anam’s ultimate message for anyone who wants to do something is to simply take that first step. “If you’re looking for an opportunity,” she says, “sometimes, you can’t just wait for someone to hand it over to you…don’t wait, just start it!”
About the Author
Ushah Kazi is a freelance writer, pop-culture junkie, and resident communications expert at Meraki.