The unofficial guide to writing for foreign newspapers

You have to realise that “sex” doesn’t sell as much as it used to, I mean everyone has “sex” nowadays, there’s so much sex on TV and the Internet, so its no biggie…What sells are bomb blasts, bearded rabid bloodshot eyed turbanned freaks with caligraphic flags, shady men in plainclothes, bribed tours in forbidden places…

On second thought, one can never have one of sex, can they?

Talk about …burqas, inject the Salafi and Wahabi influence…No piece is publishable without bashing Maya Khan and her wild goose chase…add that…

Half-naked children of India and Pakistan, drowning in sewage water paint a nice image. It is an essential ingredient for movies, books, and now op-eds/columns and blogs…

As is with the general public ignorance, while indeed politicians are corrupt, no one, not even foreign editorials, seem to mention the even more corrupt army that eats this nation economically… So bash Zardari and Gillani, bash Nawaz but have some mercy, as he’s not in power, talk about Imran’s popularity, yet nothing about what he was upto since the last 16 years. No need to talk about why of all the sudden, he seems to be the “right” man for the “wrong job”…

“This looks like a job for… wait it… I did it again, didn’t I? Clark is gonna kill me!”

The intro should involve a loud explosion or women screaming from inside a house.

Or maybe how the country is “on the brink of chaos, drowning in sectarian tensions and paranoia, its destiny relinquished to corrupt leaders”

‘Brink of chaos’ is very sexy, like any gripping novel, it will make even the Anti-Pakistani feel sorry for the country. It should be so strong, that we Pakistanis should actually start selling whatever we have and move abroad and open up a Chicken Doner restaurant.

Since collecting public opinion is hard, just go to any local roadside eatery where Geo is on the telly, and ask two or three people what they feel about the “sordid state of affairs”… As public frustration is rampant, you’ll have a boost in regional vocabulary. Add the part about how an angry shopkeeper offers his political analysis of why we’re in so much deep shit…

If you’re an ABCD/BBCD and go to Pakistan only for attending shadis or funerals, then writing about your “land of heritage” will have a greater probability of being published… You will be able to offer a comparison of the Global South and Global North as no desi Pakistani could do that…

Because let’s get real… writing from the inside of a trunk is no mean feat.

Criticise drone attacks, but also talk about Pakistan’s “inability to protect itself”, ignore the actual preference of the army sleeping with the enemy, also ignore the fact that while the Pakistani army is the solution to the problem, it is also the one creating all the problems!

Mix masala fry the modern elitist people with the “blasphemy and religion protecting zealots.” Talk about the Pakistan that was. How fuel was 1/20th of the price…

Ignore how global oil prices have surged, just focus locally… Everyone knows about the world, it’s Pakistan you’re telling everyone about…

The more fucked up you show Pakistan to be, the greater chances you have of publishing it! Voila! It shall be printed! Once done, tweet furiously! Ask all your 1000+ Facebook friends to share it, tweet it, blog it, tumblr it, linkdin it, wordpress it, blogspot it, BBM it, whatsapp it, email them to make them comment on it, ask them to “shabash” and shower praises on it…

The End.


Saad Sarfraz Sheikh is a happily married independent journalist, photographer and percussionist based in Sheffield, UK. He is currently pursuing an MA in Global Journalism and can be reached at



Categories: The World I Know


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

One Comment on “The unofficial guide to writing for foreign newspapers”

  1. March 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    I would agree. Many paint a bleak, desolate picture and sell it. Empathy and compassion are just fancy veneers. Having said that, there is a dark side, and that needs to be brought out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: