Q: If there is bad news, should it be given first at the start of the meeting?
A: This is the sort of thing you shouldn’t be too prescriptive about. It depends very much on the context: what sort of news, what sort of meeting, and who is attending? Also, your personal style and preferences need to be taken into account.
The advantages of giving bad news at the start of the meeting are that it gets it out of the way, puts everyone on an even footing, restricts speculation, and (hopefully) allows people to focus on the purpose of the meeting.
The disadvantages are that people get diverted into discussing the ramifications of the news and are distracted from the meeting because they are wondering what it means for them.