OK, so this isn’t New York. I don’t own anything by Brooks Brothers. There’s some witty banter, but no one speaks in arias and to my knowledge there is no plot to fire me or any of my colleagues and a willingness by corporate denizens to use illegal wiretapping as a means to do so.
Like most of the working world, if someone wants to fire us, they just fire us.
Granted, there’s a world of difference between a national cable news network and a suburban daily newspaper, but I’ve spent the majority of my adult hours in an actual newsroom and developed migraines trying to comprehend the fairytale cable news kingdom of Aaron Sorkin’s creation.
The finale of HBO’s “Newsroom” series has my head spinning in several directions and is still getting a good deal of buzz, which Sorkin should consider a win even though the series was mostly and deservedly panned by critics.
Other than cramming Sorkin’s liberal politics down our gullets, which should be expected if you know Sorkin’s work, I’m not sure what “Newsroom” was trying to tell us that needed telling. Maybe it was just entertainment. Some people I like and respect loved it. TV shows are subjective, and I hate more than 90 percent of them.
However, this one especially bugged me for more reasons than I can articulate, although I’ll give it a shot in my small time slot.
Journalists spend a lot of time navigating what their training and mentors have taught them about responsibility, ethics and context, while technology changes at a dizzying pace along with the business models of longstanding institutions.
It’s harder than it looks, but I don’t even recognize the process in Sorkin’s “Newsroom.” Sure, there are debates about what is important and what is not and the mere fact that journalists get to decide those matters carries with it an inherent pomposity.
I’ve seen occasional newsroom romances that were none of my business, but nothing like the soap opera between producers, interns and “the talent” like you find on HBO. Even though my wife once worked in my very newsroom, I doubt we’d be married today if we worked together, since I’m even less charming at work brushing Taco Bell crumbs from my keyboard and cursing under my breath while writing a column on deadline.
I’ve never seen staff meetings devoted to the noble calling of ridding the world of the tea party – or the “American Taliban” as Jeff Daniels’ character ridiculously called them. No one’s ever forced us to breathlessly cover the Casey Anthony trial because Nancy Grace was performing her patented circus.
What newsrooms do, or should do, is strive for balance in giving people information that they want and in some cases need, and let them make up their own minds. Most people who work in newsrooms don’t consider it some noble calling to obliterate philosophies that conflict with their own point of view.
What we know, or should know, is that our points of view don’t matter that much. That’s one of the guiding principles behind attempting to remove bias from objective reporting. There are many points of view, and ours are not significantly more important just because we sit at keyboards or read credibly from teleprompters.
We might see some things that others don’t, but we’ve achieved no great sense of enlightenment that makes us better than our readers and viewers that justifies making our opinions more important than covering the actual news.
Outside of obvious opinion pieces, journalists who claim that high ground because they believe they’re that advanced should exist nowhere but in fictional accounts with actors who are much better looking than real journalists.
• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at email@example.com.