The Newsroom Episode 8

The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn

Whose decision was it not to cover the Casey Anthony trial?

The Casey Anthony started last week and has caused half of News Night’s viewers to jump ship (and Nancy Grace’s show on HLN has jumped by over a million).  Will (Jeff Daniels) & Co. want to host a Republic Presidential Primary debate, so keeping ratings up is important.  Thus, it’s either slum it or lose a chance to change the way we do political debates.  The decision, and Will doesn’t seem to upset about it, is to slum it and hard.  I hope nobody takes a picture of their junk and tweets it to thousands.  Oh no…  Meanwhile, Charlie (Sam Waterston) meets with an NSA whistleblower who wants a massive story about warrantless wiretaps and will give Charlie information about a AWN phonehacking scandal almost exactly like News of the World in Britain.  Will has also called in Brian Brenner (Paul Schneider), the ex with whom Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) cheated, to write a piece on their philosophy heretofore.

This is how it starts.  Balance for credibility.  Entertainment to get viewers to see the real news.  Self-titled experts that have the right agent.  Lack of faith leads to sloppy production.  All of this until get used to it and we end the race to the bottom which turns out to be something of a loop.  They can all see it slip through their fingers.  What makes it worse is that real news is pushed out.  An hour-long program is effectively cut to twenty minutes to put in stories like the debt ceiling ‘crisis.’  Would News Night lose that many viewers to a sensationalized non-story if it spent the past year plus doing hard news?  I’m not so sure, but I’m cynical enough to believe it.

We’ve also got what is, to my knowledge, our first fictional story.  I think that this is exactly why Newsroom (2012) hasn’t been using fake stories.  You have to create believable stories with large stakes balanced against mundane topics of large long-term stakes.  To do that, you have to create a complete universe so that stories don’t contradict each other.  I can imagine this to be a tedious task to write.  I also can’t imagine viewers being satisfied with the fake news—they’d always try to tie it to the real story or scoff at the unlikeliness of it.  I’m pretty skeptical of this NSA story already and the News of the World parallel makes it seem almost cheap.  I’m willing to buy it because they’ve already built up a strong storyline and a perspective I like.

This is Part 1, so it ends mid-sentence.  How painful.  I wish I could just watch them all in one go.

Reviews of Episodes 123456789, and 10.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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6 Responses to The Newsroom Episode 8

  1. Pingback: The Newsroom | Prof. Ratigan

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