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Late Night: What’s The Value of TV Journalism? Analysis of Episode Two of The Newsroom

There was a scene in The Newsroom’s second episode this season where Charlie, the network president, explains to the two rich kids working on a hostile takeover that what the news division of ACN does and says is important. ACN, he explains, is like NBC and CNN, they are the face and voice of the parent corporation.

That really struck me. I liked it. Suddenly I was Fox Mulder quoting from the poster above my desk. “I want to believe.”

The rich kids didn’t care. If they could make more more money showing Foxy Boxing than the news, then why not?

Concurrently in the show, we see Will, The Anchor With Integrity, stand on the side of journalism, and telling the truth.

Then we see all the people and pressures that get in the way of the truth that Charlie believes in: other TV news divisions, lawyers, federal law enforcement and the people focusing on the financial bottom line.

Sorkin sets us up for conflicts and confrontations with each group. Do these issues and pressures come up in the real world? Is this really what people think, or do we just hope people think and act like this in the real world?.

While watching a gripping TV show I often feel like a passenger in the back of a cab. I feel like I have no control and no say about anything that is happening. In a cab I actually do have some control, if i speak up at the right time, am heard and the driver responds to my comments. Does the same feeling extend to watching the news? Can I have a say?

In this episode Sorkin shows us a potent way that we can have a say in the network news. He shows us what they care about, how it is pointed out to them and what they do in response.

One of the junior staffers says something about the Republicans after the Boston Marathon bombing being happy this tragedy didn’t involve guns. That comment clearly doesn’t match anyone’s idea of “The Voice” of the network or corporate parent. The people who point out the brand mismatch are other media. They see this as news. The network has to act to right the mismatch. [cont’d.]

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