2. The Balance Between Fiction and Non-Fiction
The buzz around The Newsroom has not all been kind. According to this recent Reuters article, the show is "controversial" and in need of defending, and other sources say the media is upset about it. I don't know how many of my fellow critics hold that opinion, but I can say that I'm not one of them. I'm not bothered by the show's portrayals, because I'm not expecting it to be like the real news. If I wanted to watch the real news, I would turn to CNN or MSNBC or Fox News.
I love The Newsroom exactly because it's not realistic. It's not like the real news, which makes me want to throw a remote at my TV each night as I get depressed about all the negative headlines. It's what someone else referred to as "aspirational" - to quote the first episode, "It's not, but it can be."
And no matter what we think of it, we have to remember that in the end, it's just a TV drama. In fact, HBO runs this disclaimer in the closing credits of every episode:
The Newsroom incorporates fictional and fictionalized elements and events, and any similarity between characters in the series and actual persons is purely coincidental and unintentional. Nothing in the series is intended to convey or imply facts about any persons, elements or events.
Now I can understand wanting to have some element of realism, but for me, there's always an amount of dramatic license involved, too. In that sense, The Newsroom reminds me of 24; we all knew very well there was no one like Jack Bauer in real life, and no way one guy could do half the things he did over eight seasons. But did his world have some elements of truth to it? And did we want there to be a Jack Bauer out there? Yes, and yes. Do I believe the folks at ACM could be real newsmen and women? And do I want there to be people like them? You betcha.
Go ahead and dislike the show if you don't like its message, or think it's preachy, or just find it boring. Those are all fair criticisms. But to expect a TV series to skew as close to its real subject as some seem to think The Newsroom should just doesn't feel right to me.