My new favorite TV show is the Newsroom. It is the new hour length drama created by Aaron Sorkin for HBO. Sorkin is the writer/creator of The West Wing. He’s also written such movies as A Few Good Men and The Social Network.
The show is arrogant. In concept it is “Here is how to do TV news correctly.”. But so was West Wing. What makes it work are engaging characters, plots and issues worth carrying about and the fortune that the words in the script are almost as good as Sorkin thinks they are. A little bit of humor always helps it work too.
It is only a show in. It is too early to tell if the elements will work together. I hope they do.
But I have two issues with the high concepts of the show.
The first is that the show is set in the recent past – 2010. Not long ago, but enough that the tenor of the news is changing. I think talking about news now without talking about crowd sourced news is impossible. Tomorrow will be the first Sunday without an Edmonton Journal newspaper published. If you’re under 30 your news is likely coming from Twitter and blogs. Maybe even if you are older. The gives items that are either polished media releases or items with no provenance.
Fixing TV news is cool. But it seems the world has already moved past that. The biggest question is how to get news is today’s world.
The second issue is the show’s investiture in “Great Men.”. The show seems quite confident that the right person at the tiller can change the world. This hits against my own biases. Great people have an impact, but change only comes in groups. Tolstoy indoctrinated me I think. Looking to others to bring about positive change is only a dream. The only way to create change is to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. If enough people do so, society can change. Not by the actions of great men, but the actions of normal men and women.
Still, so far I love the show. New episode coming up.