I've quickly become a fan of Aaron Sorkin's new HBO drama The Newsroom. It's a fast paced look into broadcast news much like Sorkin's other projects including The Social Network and West Wing. In fact, I thought the series premiere was so good that I watched it again the next night.
If you haven't seen the show, here is the official trailer.
While this is certainly fiction, and by necessity the drama-factor is turned up quite a few notches, I do think there are fascinating insider insights into how a newsroom works and how news is put together. These glimpses into what happens in a newsroom should prove valuable for many people who want to get news coverage.
Real-Time breaking news
Much that I recall about putting news out quickly and under intense pressure is portrayed on The Newsroom. For six years I worked in the real-time news division of Knight-Ridder, at the time one of the world's largest newspaper companies. I sat in the Tokyo bureau and Hong Kong bureau during the go-go years of the Japanese and Hong Kong economies.
I've never worked in broadcast news, but I have appeared in live interviews both in-studio and via remote on many news programs at networks like CNN, FOX, and ABC, and MSNBC. From my (limited) perspective, much of The Newsroom is accurate.
But so much is right. If you're work in PR or run a business that could use some media attention, The Newsroom is certainly worth studying.
In the first episode, there are extensive scenes of how the news team covers a breaking news story. At several points, Jeff Daniels as anchor Will McAvoy, interviews spokespeople from various government agencies and corporations. We also see the producers and bookers scrambling to find qualified people to speak on-air. Interesting stuff for PR people to see.
I kept thinking how valuable Newsjacking would have been during the breaking news scenes! I was expecting a company to insert their ideas into the cycle.