The news media is an important source of information for the general public about crises foreign and domestic. Unfortunately, the bad guys happen to be members of the general public, and at times, the media can give them important information that the rest of us would rather they not know. Maybe it was the name of a potential hostage that the antagonists can use. Perhaps a rescue attempt was spoiled by the news. Maybe it's an important MacGuffin that will come in handy. In any case, things just got a lot harder for the protagonists.
Despite the above, this trope does not apply to villains only. It applies in any case where someone gains and acts on information gained from watching or reading public news, blogs, etc.
Related to Unwitting Instigator of Doom and If It Bleeds, It Leads. See also Coincidental Broadcast, Loose Lips, Taught by Television and Saying Too Much. Not to be confused with Is This Thing Still On? and Engineered Public Confession when the very guy holding his own secrets accidentally says it publicly.
Contrast Information Wants to Be Free when broadcasting of secrets is a good thing.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Vento of the Front casts a spell that causes anyone who bares ill will toward her to be knocked unconscious, no matter where they are in the world. Naturally, when the media reports on the strange woman dressed in scantily yellow robes and blowing holes in buildings to the public, they only succeed in knocking out a vast majority of the population until the spell ends, since the majority of viewers thought "that lady is a jerk" or "that lady has to be stopped" or something similar.
- During Superman's "electric" phase, one storyline had Metallo gleaning information about how to defeat him from a news program in which Jimmy Olsen and Professor Hamilton analyzed Superman's new power set in great detail.
- Lucky Luke: Parodied in "The Daily Star". Luke is trying to sneak around the back of the saloon to ambush the bad guys, and tells Horace as much. Horace then sells the latest edition of the Daily Star revealing Luke's plan, a copy of which is bought and read by the bad guys. Luke's ambush fails, he starts angrily telling off Horace... before telling him that his plan failed, so he's going to try from the front this time. Horace prints another run, the bad guys move into position... and Luke sneaks up on them from behind. The sheriff is later confused that Luke didn't do as the paper claimed he did.
- A one-shot story of The Spirit had the Spirit helping a young woman that was being chased by gangsters... and the gangsters constantly finding them wherever they went, nearly killing them repeatedly. Turned out that the woman was an Intrepid Reporter and her constant "dramatic narration" (which was driving Spirit nuts as it was) was being picked up by a Hidden Wire on her person and broadcasted live on the radio for everybody in town (including the gangsters) to hear.
- Robin. Tim spots a criminal who has disguised himself as a pregnant female hostage and simply walked out of a hostage situation pretending to be the first hostage let go on a news broadcast while he's grounded. A quick call to Batman sees the crook caught and handed back into police custody right after he slips out of sight.
- The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: In one flashback arc, Chromedome and Prowl’s murder investigation is complicated when the news gets ahold of their preliminary reports and blabs about all their findings. This was intentionally invoked by Chromedome and Prowl’s superiors. The murders were part of the Senate’s plans to ingratiate themselves with the Decepticons; the cops were never supposed to solve the case, merely “discover” that the Decepticons weren’t responsible, allowing the Senate to spin the situation as them being unbiased and proving the Decepticons’ innocence.
- In the X-Files fanfic "Bodhisattva," Mulder is chucked in prison as the prime suspect for the bomb mailed to Assistant Director Skinner. A Federal agent in Federal prison, his only hope is that no-one identifies him... Guess whose face is plastered all over the news?
- In the Miraculous Ladybug fic Spots Off, Alya accidentally films Ladybug transforming back into Marinette during a livestream, and, despite Alya deleting the video and attempting to contain the damage, the footage ends up on Youtube, getting tens of thousands of views in a few hours. By the following morning, Marinette's name, her parents names, and the name of her school are on the TV news and the Dupain-Cheng bakery is surrounded by news reporters, none of whom seem particularly concerned about making a teenager and her family a target for Hawkmoth.
- In Die Hard, a TV reporter goes to John McClane's house and talks to his children. Hans Gruber sees that the children match the photos in Holly's office, and realized that Holly was John's wife, giving him a valuable hostage.
- In Die Hard 2, the same Jerkass Glory Hound reporter from the first film (who is trapped on one of the planes alongside John's wife) manages to broadcast the fact that there is a terrorist threat (which the Dulles authorities have managed to keep quiet about so far) on national television (purely for personal glory — by the time Holly knocks him out with a taser, he's halfway into delivering a speech through the phone to his TV station that if this is his final broadcast, that he hopes he'll be remembered as a hero or something), leading to a massive riot at the airport which gridlocks the police's mobilization and forces John to face the escaping terrorists on his own. It also nearly panics the plane's passengers, who are also watching a TV broadcast.
- White House Down. The media shows the video of the terrorists that Emily filmed, and also give her name. When the terrorists find out, they're pissed, but it doesn't become relevant until later when they find out that she's the daughter of the man causing them trouble.
- Speed. Terrorist Payne uses the news networks to monitor the police activities near the bus on which he has planted a bomb. Jack Traven, the officer on the bus, is only able to escape the news helicopters by getting the bus to an airport, which has restricted airspace.
- Subverted in Man of Steel: Not only does Lois Lane not run a story revealing the identity of Superman, she refuses to give the information when ordered.
- Subverted in Argo. A newspaper finds out about the six US Embassy employees hiding out in the Canadian ambassador's house in Tehran, but the US government convinces them to sit on the story so the Iranians don't find out.
- Likewise in Thirteen Days, though the news editor points out they also sat on the Bay of Pigs, which turned out to be a complete disaster.
- The opening shoot-out of S.W.A.T. almost invokes this: at one point a TV cameramen climb a fence behind the LAPD command post and get a shot of their security camera feed, which the robbers holding hostages inside the bank then see on the news coverage. Lieutenant Velasquez sees what's going on and scrambles to get officers to block the TV guy's camera, but it's unclear whether any important information was transmitted.
Gunman: Hey! I'm on TV!
- In the sci-fi movie Runaway, a news cameraman follows Ramsay into a house with a homicidal gun-wielding robot endangering a baby. His presence hinders Ramsay's actions greatly until he stupidly gets himself shot by the robot.
- Earlier Ramsey points out that the robot can pick up their live broadcast transmission.
- In John Q., a news station that managed to broadcast footage of what was going on in the emergency room where everyone was taken hostage allowed John to see some SWAT officers sneaking in to try to take him down, which enabled him to beat them.
- A plot point in Saving Lily. Several kids, their families, and teacher are raising money to buy an elephant from a cruel circus owner so they can deliver her to an elephant shelter. Lily's owner agrees to the deal, if there is no outside publicity about it. The day before the deal happens, two well-meaning kids (not well acquainted with the main kids) get the local newspaper to publish an article about the efforts, which reaches the attention of the circus man. He cancels the deal, but is convinced to uncancel it because all the money had been raised without media help, and because canceling the deal means they're free to raise as much publicity as they want about it.
- Torajiro Sato is a broken man at the end of Debt of Honor. And then he notices a copy of USA Today, where the headline is showing that the majority of the US government is gathering at Capitol Hill to swear Jack in as vice president, and is inspired to take a course of action that will let him go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
- Averted in the The Adventures of Superman episode "The Defeat of Superman." Clark comments on how glad he is that Lois didn't say anything about Kryptonite in her latest article. Lois and Jimmy quickly assure him that their lips are sealed.
- Avoided in an episode of Dragnet. Joe Friday sweet-talks some reporters into holding off on running the story for about a day so his investigation isn't adversely affected.
- In the iCarly episode, "iSam's Mom", when Freddie catches a criminal called the Shadow Hammer on video with special sunglasses that record video, one of the girls who lives in Freddie's apartment building reveals where he lives despite Freddie's insistence not to say so.
- On an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, two detectives are in a bar and the news on TV gives away a piece of information about a crime that the detectives were withholding to help them weed out false confessions.
- Defied in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Prometheus". A TV station gets a hold of information about the stargate program, although they think that "Prometheus" is a nuclear fusion research project. The president personally kills the story in exchange for a promise that when the program eventually goes public, the station gets an exclusive.
- Criminal Minds: In "Minimal Loss", Prentiss and Reid are investigating a cultist sect undercover as social workers when a dumbass Attorney General, looking to score political brownie points, orders state troopers and SWAT to raid the cult's farm while they're still inside. When the BAU takes charge of the siege and tell the AG, in no uncertain terms, to blow, he instead heads to the reporters to inform them that he is coordinating intimately with the FBI on this matter and leaks that they already have an undercover agent in place, blowing Prentiss' cover and nearly Reid's as well.
- In an episode of Without a Trace, the missing person of the week is in the Witness Protection Program, but in a massive failure of interagency communication, the FBI doesn't learn that until they've sent his picture and (new) identity out to the media, who dutifully reported it in the hope of finding him. The rest of the episode is devoted to dealing with the fallout from outing the guy, and they end up having to fake his death to get him out of harm's way again.
- The Discovery TV mini-series "Manhunt: Unabomber" (which dramatizes the FBI's manhunt for Theodore Kaczynski) tosses an enormous complication on the investigation after the FBI is able to single out that Kaczynski is the most probable suspect and start to surveil his home and mobilize agents covertly to raid it when the time is right and they have iron-clad proof. What was meant to be a multi-month operation turns into a mad dash to find enough evidence to present to the judge and strike within 24 hours when NBC catches wind of what is going on and the Smug Snake producer tells the director that he will only hold the story for that much time (even after the director insists that if Kaczynski is the Unabomber, then the broadcast may end up causing a bloodbath).
- Mass Effect 3. The Alliance News Network twitter updates on the Reaper invasion of Earth, which included details on where civilians were able to get military protection so they could escape Earth. Emily Wong realized too late that the Reapers had been reading the tweets to find out where the evacuation point was so they could attack it.
- SWAT 4: In the St. Michael's Medical Center mission, a news station broadcasts footage of your team entering the hospital. Tactical Operations Command manages to cut the cable connection to the hospital, but not before the terrorists are made aware of your entry.
- Sonic Adventure 2: When Eggman can't find the yellow Chaos Emerald, Rouge hands him a newspaper revealing that Tails was awarded it after saving Station Square during his last fight against Eggman.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: The eponymous Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain has a blog, which he uses to talk to his fans about various things he's done and his plans for future schemes. This backfires on him in Act II when it turns out his viewing audience includes Captain Hammer and the LAPD, who are waiting for him when he shows up to sabotage a speech.
- Superman: The Animated Series: Angela Chen makes the friendship between Superman and Jimmy Olsen public, thereby causing one of Metallo's agents to target Jimmy.
- In The Zeta Project, Zeta is a rogue robot on the run and is accompanied by Rosalie Rowan, a runaway from a foster home. In one episode, Ro ends up on a talk show where people who have been separated from their families have their relatives tracked down for a reunion. Ro is initially scared because having her face and name broadcasted live on the air would put her and Zeta at risk of being traced and subsequently arrested by the NSA.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) plays with this from time to time, not so much information being "accidentally" revealed, but rather, if Shredder or Krang happen to be watching Channel 6's newsfeed, and decide whatever is being reported on could work to their advantage. For example, in "Green With Jealousy", the Technodrome (now inside a volcano) experiences a severe power shortage, Bebop and Rocksteady watch Channel 6 report a story on a nuclear-powered submarine, inspiring Krang to intercept it and use its fuel to supply power to the Technodrome.
- In Dan VS episode "Dan VS the Superhero", Dan becomes the supervillain Dr. Jerk, and learns of his superhero enemy's only weakness in a televised interview.
- Lastman: Criminals who took hostages learn from journalists on the phone that the police is about to strike them. That show was made right after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, see Real Life below.
- The Simpsons "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love": After the police surround Snake's hideout when he takes Homer and Gloria hostage, Chief Wiggum proves why you shouldn't talk to the press.
Kent Brockman: We're in minute two of this stand-off. What's the situation, Chief?Wiggum: Well, we have an officer sneakin' around the house, Kent. So unless they have a television in there, or can hear my loud talking—(A gunshot is heard. Officer Eddie runs away from the hideout, holding his arm in pain.)Eddie: Ow! Ow! Ow!Wiggum: Well, I guess that answers that, doesn't it?
- One of the first animated Superman cartoons by Fleischer Studios is "The Mechanical Monsters," which are flying robots built by a Mad Scientist to smash, rob then fly away. A newspaper headline in The Daily Planet details a trove of jewelry on display in Metropolis. Guess where the Mad Scientist sends one of his robots?
- On an episode of WordGirl, the Butcher finds out about a necklace of beef jerky with mystical abilities (which he then tries to steal) from the news.
- At the start of Exo Squad, when the Exo Fleet begins a campaign against the pirate clans, a reporter comes onto the bridge and begins broadcasting there, with the possibility of accidentally sending out all sorts of info out to the pirates. The second that Admiral Winfield notices them he throws them off the bridge.
- Inverted in one episode of Pelswick where Pelswick was running a pirate radio station with the FCC searching for it. When the FCC found Goon, he mentioned over the radio that the FCC was coming for Pelswick before mentioning he was on his way back to Pelswick's house where the station was, much to Pelswick's dismay.
- The massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany was a tragic example. The hostage takers were watching the news which was covering the rescue plans and attempts in depth (case in point: they watched plainclothes police take position on the roof right above them and their balcony live). By using the news to know when and where they were going to make a rescue attempt they managed to stay ahead enough that the confrontation turned into what it's known as today: The Munich Massacre.
- During the Falklands War in 1982, the BBC was accused of giving away too much information in its news coverage. It was pointed out that the Argentinean Embassy in London, which had not been closed down or otherwise ordered to leave, was monitoring news channels in Britain and sending digests of useful news home. This was due to technology having advanced faster than the existing guidelines for reporting from war zones could be modified, as the old rules were more suited to the 1950's and an era before satellite communications or even widespread use of TV.
- The infamous Rizal Park hostage-taking incident, where an ex cop took a tourist bus hostage in the middle of the aforementioned park. While the hostage ensued the perpetrator was watching the news, which covered everything happening outside the bus. Meaning he knew the police's every move, but they didn't know his, as he covered all the windows of the bus.
- In the case of California serial killer Ricardo Ramirez, known in the media as the "Night Stalker", the mayor held a televised news conference which indicated that the key components of the investigation were ballistics evidence and footprints found at the crime scenes. This gave Ramirez the opportunity to dispose of his weapons and shoes.
- In The American Civil War, generals got a lot of use out of the local papers, which often reported troop movements in the area. Robert E. Lee was particularly fond of the Northern papers during his Maryland and Pennsylvania campaigns.
- Journalist Geraldo Rivera, while traveling with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, began to disclose an upcoming operation during a Fox News broadcast, even going so far as to draw a map in the sand for his audience. The military immediately issued a firm denunciation of his actions, saying it put the operation at risk, and nearly expelled Rivera from Iraq.
- Parodied by The Daily Show, which saw this as Rivera getting overexcited about establishing his Intrepid Reporter credentials.
Stephen Colbert: He’s the only reporter out here who's got the cojones to walk it like he talks it! He can’t be constrained by concern for the safety and security of men who have invited him to join them at great risk to both themselves and their military objective! If he gets everybody killed, so be it. He’s not gonna pussy out.
- Parodied by The Daily Show, which saw this as Rivera getting overexcited about establishing his Intrepid Reporter credentials.
- In Israel in 2013, before it was officially revealed on the media who the ‘famous singer’ who slept with underage girls was, one reporter accidentally mentioned his name (Eyal Golan) and quickly apologised—‘...er, uh, sorry...’ While it wasn’t a particularly well-guarded secret before, this made it pretty much official and made any attempts to preserve his anonymity laughable. The slip of the tongue and the awkward apology soon turned memetic, replacing the slip with other things one should not be saying, e.g. ‘Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice... er, uh, sorry...
- Another World War II example: At morning, April 9, while German troops were entering Norway, the king, government and parliament evacuated the city, taking the first train north. The Broadcasting company, still free at the time, broadcast: "The government and king have evacuated to Hamar..." Whoops! The Germans were in hot pursuit within two hours.
- In the war in the Pacific, Australian radio reported that the Japanese had landed on a particular island. As the only way they could have known that information was because a Coastwatcher was on the island, the Japanese immediately began searching for him.
- During the last stand of the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in France, news channels confirmed that one of the employees of the factory where the terrorists hid was still in there after police besieged the factory. Fortunately, the terrorists chose to ignore him, being concerned only about how to resist as long as possible.