It was the late 1970s’. News was scarce in Egypt. Scoops were fought over. Bahgat Badie was Reuters’ senior correspondent in Cairo, and he knew he had a hot story. Reliable sources told him there were going to be new members of the cabinet. Not just one source, but several. And he trusted them.
So he wrote that change was imminent. Not so, the government quickly replied, denying the news story. His bosses were worried. Did he make a mistake? What should he do? It was not a mistake, he told them. He knew he had the truth, and knew he had done his work, and he knew that the truth would win out.
A few days went by and the government announced exactly the kind of changes he wrote about. Congratulations, his bosses said. Years later he remembers the moment because it was the epitome of the journalism that he believed in. Tell the truth. Work hard. Work until you know for sure what you want to write. And share your work with your colleagues: you are a team player, a reporter, not a star on your own.
That way of working carried him through a lifetime career with Reuters, then at al Ahram’s English edition, then with the Kuwaiti news agency, and now at the Middle East News Agency (MENA). It is mid-morning and he is writing up the economics and business news in English. He has been a reporter for over 50 years now, and when he searches his mind, he comes back to the same motto: make sure you are telling the truth and you are unbiased. And, he adds, do your job promptly, on time. And so, he has so more work to do this morning so he has to get back to his job.