The State of Journalism, and Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom"

Why a glimmer of hope for Journalism can now be found through HBO.

-- Journalism is dead. I should know - I went to school and that was all my professor said. I once even wrote a report relating to it. American Journalism is in a disturbing crisis. The fact that the word death has to be associated with the profession - this in regards to print (newspapers in particular) downsizing and even closing shop, or with the contorted stories and material being put out in public. It is painful, dreadful and, quite frankly, un-American, that a huge contingent of this great country does not even know what is happening to *their watchdog. This is due in no small thanks to:
  • The likes of god-playing power mongers like Rupert Murdoch, who have seemingly convinced themselves they own the airwaves they broadcast on, and have somehow monopolized media on the planet;
  • The Republican Right, who constantly uses and abuses Mainstream Media;
  • The Liberal Left, who forgot to do their jobs despite claiming to stand on the side of good and morality, bending over to as much demands the Right has;
  • More recently, the lunatic cult movement who calls themselves the Tea Party, spewing all sorts of lies and absurdities to strike fear in the hearts of the bewildered herd within the American public;
  • And, these mainstream pawns who dare call themselves journalists, whether they are merely reading garbage, irrelevant and entertainment-driven content from a teleprompter, or worse, manufacture their own news from absolutely nothing.
The rest of the world shares similar problems with the mainstream's hold on the privilege and responsibility to disseminate information, but it is a real embarrassment that America, whose constitution mentions the importance of freedom of speech, and has come to establish journalism, as the Fourth Estate has succumbed to consumerism-driven agenda and propaganda. They have also managed to manufacture consent this way. And then there was Sorkin. Aaron Sorkin, the genius behind movies such as The Social Network, Moneyball, The American President, and television shows The West Wing, Sports Night, and my personal favorite, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And his most recent work, as he finally comes on HBO, is perhaps his best yet. And it comes at a time when a strong, prominent and credible voice is needed to talk about mainstream journalism and its current inadequacies. The Newsroom revolves around the fictional show 'News Night with Will McAvoy' and its staff, led by Jeff Daniels' and Emily Mortimer's respective characters, Will McAvoy and McKenzie McHale. The show opens with Will participating in an open forum, and as a news anchor popular for staying in the middle politically, he experiences a meltdown of sorts when asked a question - "What makes America the Greatest Country in the World?" After dodging ineffectively, he snaps. "It's Not." This show, while merely in its fourth episode after last night, and fictional at that, has already informed in a way that justifies how a journalist ought to do so. It has highlighted events in recent history that has affected the globe, economically and politically, and is providing a clinic on how a reporter should do his job, presenting all the facts and letting truth speak for itself. One hour every Sunday. Later on in the Pilot episode , Mac explains the premise of the show she wants to do while arguing with Will, who is also her ex-husband... Will: "...And what does winning look like to you?" Mac: "Reclaiming the Fourth Estate! Reclaiming Journalism as an honorable profession! A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect, and a return to what's important: The Death of Bitchiness, The Death of Gossip and Voyeurism, Speaking Truth to Stupid - no demographic sweet spot, a place where we can all come together!" Why can't this be a reality for national mainstream media? Why is it only the likes of Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, Chris Hedges, who are all working through alternative ways? How come Julian Assange, who is doing his job as a journalist being tried in a damn witch hunt? How is it that two comics in Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are doing a way better job of exposing corruption, serving as a check and balance for the government, and serving as that watchdog - and not Katie Couric or Bill O'Reilly? At least Brian Williams tries to, and does especially well with coverage of war and poverty. Sorkin provides great hope with this show. And it has a better shot at not being cancelled since it's on HBO. Journalism is was dead. It's high time it came back, alive and kicking. ------------------------ (Photo credits: Featured photo - 1 - 2 - 3) *Watchdog Journalism - A term stemming from journalism's school of thought, that "the media has the responsibility to be the watchdog of society."