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Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Newsroom 3.2: Ethics in High Relief

A superb, taut, powerful Newsroom 3.2 tonight, with at least three stories revolving around: ethics.

(Cue Rod Serling voice)  Submitted for your approval:

3. Hallie gets in trouble for a late-night tweet saying Republicans are happy because the Boston bombings did not involve guns.   She's forced to resign, to make Republicans happy.   No discussion of whether her tweet, though it might have been in bad taste, had any truth to it.   Realistic enough, but a sad day for ethics in the newsroom.

2.  Maggie, on a the train back from Boston (after covering the bombings), hears an EPA official saying Obama's not doing enough for the environment.   Maggie, with the help of a guy who later identifies himself as a Professor who teaches ethics at Fordham Law School (yes!), records the EPA official as he's talking. Later, she not only decides not to use the recording - which she has every legal right to use - but, at first, doesn't want to accept the EPA official's offer to give her another story, in return for her promise not to use the recording.  As Maggie says, she may have a legal right to use the recording, but not an ethical right, and she doesn't want to take the bribe of the second story to keep quiet on the first.   Ethical?  Hell, yes.   And it's good to see that Maggie does eventually take the second story - as well as give her card to the Fordham prof who wants to see her again - once it's clear that the second story isn't a bribe, because she's not going to use the first in any case.   Good to see ethical behavior rewarded.

1.  But Neil's story is by far the most serious.  He can be sent to Fed prison for his work in getting the info from the government leaker - said by FBI to be a "bad guy".   In one of Will's best moves in the series, he contrives to get Neil out of the building and away from the FBI, and, Will inserts himself in the game by telling the FBI that he knows the name of Neil's source.    This last season of The Newsroom is now set for one of its best stories in all three seasons:  Will becoming Edward Snowden - well, not quite, because Will doesn't work for the government - but close enough.

In an age in which ethics in journalism is tested and on the line all the time, it's a real pleasure and an education to see it center-stage in The Newsroom.

analysis of the first two seasons

See also The Newsroom 3.1: Media on Media

And see also The Newsroom Season 2 Debuts on Occupy Wall Street and More ... and (about Trayvon Martin) If Only There Was a Video Recording ... The Newsroom 2.2: The Power of Video ... The Newsroom 2.7: Autopsy of a Bad Decision ... The Newsroom 2.8: The Course of True Love ... The Newsroom Season 2 Finale: Love, Triumph, and Wikipedia

And see also The Newsroom and McLuhan ... The Newsroom and The Hour ...The Newsroom Season 1 Finale: The Lost Voice Mail

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