I am a sucker for an Aaron Sorkin project. West Wing was one of my favourite shows: machine-gun dialogue, smart approach to simple issues, and the ability to not “dumb down” the plot to engage the audience. And now, Sorkin has done it again with the new HBO series The Newsroom.
Starring Jeff Daniels as the “Jay Leno” of network news, he doesn’t bother anyone, the worst descriptive for a journalist. But, in this age of corporate sponsorships, focus groups, Neilson ratings, political polarization and the ‘gnat-sized’ attention span that allows a major story to be 90 seconds tops, this behind the scenes approach to what needs to change in the production of a nightly news show is a welcome breath of sense in this time of celebrity nonsense being passed off as ‘newsworthy’.
I have long lamented the sad state of national news, the apparent disinterest in real journalism, and the making of “celebrity newsreaders” who could not recognize a journalistic ethic if it bit them in the ass. If you watch no other episodes or clips of this show, you need to see the first 5 minutes. It lays out each and every point I have ever tried to make to those who screech the Faux News line of America the Great, and brook no dissenting opinions.
Yet, this will be an incredibly polarizing show; simply because of the hammer Sorkin has used to push the need for a return to journalism as practiced by Cronkite and Morrow, rather than the pap spewed by Couric and Lauer. I don’t for one minute think it is easy to make news, but to ask the questions that provide real answers, do the research and ask the questions – is why you go to journalism school.
Only one episode has been aired, there is a hint to past romantic entanglements, and often flawed characters: but as a ‘what we should expect” from the people who we have tasked with providing us the news, it is a winner. Give it a watch and let me know what you think…