HBO's 'Newsroom': Am I watching 'Grey's Anatomy'?
Am I watching "Grey's Anatomy"? Because for a good 40 minutes of Sunday's episode of "The Newsroom," I was watching people make puppy-dog eyes at people they are in love with but can't be with.
Associate producer Maggy Jordan pretended she wasn't attracted to senior producer Jim Harper, while Jim hooked up with her roommate. Executive producer MacKenzie McHale pretended she wasn't still in love with anchor Will McAvoy while he hit on multiple women. In the last climactic moments of the "I'll Try to Fix You" episode, an emo rock pop love song played while people exchanged long glances fraught with emotional subtext. Here is that technique, applied to a "30 Rock" episode in the video below.
Several women threw drinks in Will's face. The drinks were not a "Grey's" plot device — that was borrowed from the musical drama "Smash." And no one, not even last night's "Newsroom" guest star Hope Davis, can sling the contents of a martini glass like Anjelica Huston's character on "Smash." Here is a video of Huston doing just that.
Producer Aaron Sorkin used this episode to criticize celebrity tabloid journalism. Davis played a writer for TMI magazine, and she was about to write a "takedown" piece on a Housewives reality show character, which McAvoy ripped into her for. The magazine then published a "takedown" piece on McAvoy himself.
And finally, there was a totally solid moment when the McAvoy was about to go on the air to report that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., had been shot, and the network's president was goading him into reporting Giffords was dead. He held off.
We don't know have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight when news is breaking in real time. I now work for the editorial department but I was a Web producer in the newsroom hub for nine months. When a shooting story breaks in The Seattle Times newsroom, often times other news outlets will start correctly or incorrectly reporting a person has died, and there is intense pressure to confirm and report. It happened during the Cafe Racer shootings when the newsroom knew police had shot the suspect in West Seattle but didn't know whether he was dead. It happened when law enforcement officials found the North Bend bunker where the man suspected of killing his wife and her daughter was hiding.
The tension in our newsroom is never about when to push print on a story for the paper or for the website. It is always about one thing: Twitter. So and so has "tweeted he's dead." "Is he dead?" "Do we know he's dead?" "Are we reporting he's dead?" No one ever thinks to put on Nickelback.
Considering the competition on national news, it's not surprising that CNN and Fox News both made errors reporting on the Supreme Court health-care ruling. CNN and Fox initially reported the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act had been struck down, then had to issue corrections, which came 90 minutes later. Here is the recap from the Poynter Institute.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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