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Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Newsroom 3.3: Journalism at the Barricades

Well, journalism is always at the barricades in The Newsroom, but it was especially and eloquently there in episode 3.3 tonight.

Neil's prosecution by the Feds, with Will stepping in to take the fire - because, as he says, the government would not have the gall to go after so an important news anchor - continues on center stage, with at least two memorable scenes.  One, at the beginning of the episode, features Charlie feigning to break into live coverage of the FBI ransacking ACN's computers, which gets the FBI to back down.   Later, Will gives the DOJ guy a good talking to, including that the DOJ bungled this operation, when the DOJ tries to threaten the wrong people - in this case, Will and company.

But, before the episode ends, Will gets served with a subpoena, making him wonder, in classic Newsroom ironic iconic style, if he maybe he's not that important after all.

Meanwhile, on a commercial rather than governmental plane, we get a great conversation between Jim and Hallie, over Jim's concern about Hallie taking a job with an online site that pays her incentives - aka "bonuses," as Hallie insists - for number of page views her stories generate.   Hallie fires back that every major news person from Edward R. Murrow to Will McAvoy got or get salaries based on the number of people who see their stories - aka viewers and ratings in television speak - so what's really the difference between her and them.?  And you know what?  Score one for Hallie and commercialism.   She's completely right that money makes the world go round, including the world of journalism (and, I might add, the academic world, too - professors are well paid).

Speaking of professors, we get a nice scene with Maggie and her Fordham law professor with a speciality in ethics.    But the EPA guy spouts insane overkill about the environment in Will's interview, and it wasn't clear to me what purpose he or this whole thread is serving.

Great episode, great series, let's hear it indeed for the First Amendment, Mr. DOJ guy.

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