Newsroom episode 8: The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn

Another long Newsroom post that will do very little traffic. I’m trying to power through these:

Will: But I still get to tell you what can retroactively go on the record from the tryout period.
Brian: You’re asking me to audition?
Will: Yeah.
Brian: Why would I do that?
Will: I can think of some reasons. Four years ago, you were on the masthead at Newsweek, turning out ten cover stories a year and spending Sunday mornings on TV. Today you have a blog.

You still would never do this… you can retroactively take stuff off he record? That is incredibly ridiculous and Will McAvoy shouldn’t respect any journalist that would agree to these terms.

Will: The Sunday Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, GQ, The New Republic, The Atlantic– Everybody’s offered the cover and I get to pick the writer. I’m going with New York Magazine and you.

What irresponsible editors would let the subject of the piece pick the writer? This whole thing is insane! Also what would GQ want with this piece?

Will: One parenthetical sentence in the second graph. “Full disclosure. I’ve been a friend of Mackenzie McHale’s since the late ’90s.”
Brian: And you?
Will: An email went to 178,000 people and was reported on our own morning show. That’s all you know and that’s all you’ll report.
Brian: That’s fine with me. But that’s the last time you’ll tell me what I will or won’t report.

So many things here. How could you guarantee where or what that disclosure will be? Stylistically an editor could put it front and center in italics, or take the parenthetical out. Will would not get approval of the piece.

At least Brian shows he has some semblance of balls in that Will can’t tell him what to report but this is getting ridiculous from a news stand point.

Reese: Mackenzie, I’ve never seen a more vivid picture of why viewers left, where they went to, and why.
Mac: You said why twice.
Reese: You chose not to work for PBS. You chose not to work for NPR. You have a ratings obligation.
Mac: No, you have a ratings obligation. You’re in business with the advertisers. I’m in business with the viewers.
Reese: You just lost their business.

This is a good point, for all the talk about how much people would love this News Night 2.0 here is a spoiler alert, they wouldn’t. People LIKE tabloids much more than detailed analysis.

Charlie: You’re gonna cover Casey Anthony.
Mac: Bullshit we are.

That’s the logical response. A murder trial that everyone cares about and talking about is news… you can’t make it not news: you can try to cover it in an intelligent way (so you might not lose that many viewers but the tabloid type stories will still beat you).

Will: It’s news.
Mac: Yeah, say that three times and click your heels. It’s entertainment. And it’s just– Just this side of a snuff film.

Can news not be entertainment? Can murder trials not be news? OJ wasn’t news? How about killings themselves? Didn’t they just cover Bin Ladin’s killing… that is much more like a snuff film (note: I have no problem with the decision to cover either event).

Will: Murrow did Person to Person. Celebrity interviews. It was a deal with Paley. One for them, one for him. He interviewed Liberace, Mac, just so he could keep going after McCarthy.
Mac: Those were puff pieces. This is poison.

I don’t understand why covering this trial is so bad.

Sloan: The House is going to vote up or down on increasing the debt ceiling. It’s a cosmetic vote, but–
Mac: If it’s a cosmetic vote, why–
Sloan: It’s news because first of all, it’ll be the first time in history the House lets the US default on its debt. But moreover, it’ll be the first shot in the beginning of a very reckless, extremely dangerous partisan fight that could end in catastrophe.

The first part is news, the second part is speculation on what could happen. It’s interesting and should be covered but that’s more opinion stuff.

Sloan: The Casey Anthony story actually gives us a chance to show how important the debt ceiling story is if we lead with the debt ceiling instead of Casey Anthony.

I really don’t think viewers know or care about what leads, a lot of people don’t watch (or read in the case of print/online) the whole program (or story). The A block is the time for the spoon full of sugar that makes the medicine go done (how has this not been referenced yet?)

Also the Weiner story is fun and as relevant as most of the BS stories about politicians, cheating on wives, having sex in bathrooms and what-not.
The problem is that when outlets like News Night try to play these games they are stepping onto the Tabs home turf. The New York Daily News and New York Post can do these stories better than anyone (especially the New York Times, CNN and TMZ).

Side note: I’m betting this is one of the few times that TMZ is included on a list including CNN and the New York Times.

Mac: I know it seems like a story that only affects 300,000 people in Queens, but since there’s sex involved, we can’t deny its national importance.

First, a lot more than 300,000 people are talking about it and care about it. Also at this point in time Weiner was the favorite for Mayor.

Also: When you cover BS Tea Party idiots running for Congress doesn’t that only involve one Congressional district (that is probably smaller than the one in Queens)?

Brian: You’re trying to get me to write this story without your fingerprints on it.

Since Will picked the author of the story wouldn’t everyone be able to trace this back to him?

Will: No serious journalist would ever agree to the demands I made on Friday. So for what it’s worth, you already did.

I made this point earlier, glad I still know these characters.

Jim: We’re not going to get the debate if we’re mocking their candidates.

Trying to get a new debate format: admirable.
But you actually need to get it and use it!
I am a firm believer that speaking skills are VASTLY OVERRATED in political leaders. Speeches don’t do anything, I don’t want to have a beer with the president or have him give me an inspirational speech… I want him (or her) to govern. I know that people are swayed by charisma and good speeches but if this is a job interview we should have them both fill out CVs and we can eliminate all (or almost all) the candidates right then and there.

Maggie: If she knows what God wants, then I’m voting for her. If she doesn’t, she should stop saying so. I’m not attacking Christians. I’m defending them.

Nothing she could say can (or should) convince you that she knows what God wants. A debate moderator should not attack or defend ANYONE. This isn’t about the moderator it’s about the candidates, their nonsense and stupidity and the voters who tune in to watch some boring TV.

Don: You’ll notice little of her coverage in this instance is about the law.
Mac: You know, come to think of it, I did notice that.
Don: It’s all based on an emotional appeal.

I think this is largely because the viewers don’t know or care about the law. They only care about the emotion. Nobody wants a law school lecture.

Mac: All right, enough. Will’s a criminal prosecutor. Maybe he can talk about how our justice system wasn’t built to lock up guilty people. It was built to keep innocent people free, which is something Americans should be proud of and fiercely protect.

Will ISN’T a criminal prosecutor… he might have been one in the past but he isn’t now. Viewers don’t like civics lessons.

Brian: What’s so special about this debate?
Mac: If we get what we want, no one will ever go back. We’ll have changed the debates forever.

Please.

Neil: Sorry, Internet trolls. It’s a play on a fishing term. People who go to message boards and try to hijack the conversation by being incendiary.
Mac: What about them?
Neil: Turns out they have their own websites.

Turns out!? They have had websites forever. Ugh, go on

Neil: Like an online clubhouse.

WHAT!?

Neil: And to be accepted into the group, you have to be able to point to a successful incident of trolling, a recent time when you made a whole bunch of posters lose their minds. Or better yet, got the site monitor to shut down the board.

People really don’t know anything about the Internet? This is sad… Sorkin, step up your game.

Sandy’s tweets: “To get us in the mood, we watch The Daily Show and Colbert. Then when we’re really hot, we go to the bookstore and replace all the copies of Glenn Beck books with The Audacity of Hope. Or, if that’s not your thing, we can just get drunk and fuck.”

Side note: Apparently Weiner and Jon Stewart were (maybe still are) good friends and that Stewart donated to the Weiner campaign (but not the Weiner mobile).

Also the idea that Tragedy Porn is new is rather stupid.

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~ by realfactsandbeer on February 7, 2013.

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