The Newsroom: I Tried to Hate It, Really.

The first thing you should know about The Newsroom? I shouldn’t like it. But I do.  

The opening scene of the pilot is evidence enough of the void that was left following the end of The West Wing. The kind of television that evokes a reaction and pinches the audience so that they jump at the harshness of the opening dialect. The kind of television we didn’t notice we were missing  until it was right in front of us. The scripting that appeared in that opening scene set up the rest of the pilot to be very well written, and very Aaron Sorkin-like.

Onto the main character, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). I want to hate him, like I want not like The Newsroom. But Sorkin manages to make him tolerable, despite the fact that Will McAvoy is an arrogant grumpy bastard who gives up $1million of his salary for the opportunity to be able to fire his ex-girlfriend Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) at the end of every week. An embarrassing situation for Mackenzie, but the things a girl will do for a job. Oh, and for the good of journalism, apparently.

Ideologically, I shouldn’t like this show. Especially with the now famous Sorkin encounter with a reporter he degradingly dubbed ‘Internet Girl’. He then told the reporter to ‘write something nice’ in response to the show. Internet Girl herself, actually known as Sarah Nicole Prickett from The Globe and Mail, responded with this brilliantly executed and dignified article about the whole debacle, and about the show itself. So here it is, an ideological reason I shouldn’t like Sorkin’s work. But I do, I own all of The West Wing and the idea of The Newsroom itself sent me giddy- because not only am I a sucker for anything to do with journalism, but generally speaking HBO pleases me. I will try, very hard to actually sit and consume the show without being dumbfounded by it’s one dimensional female characters. Mackenzie is a character who tries to appear as a strong female character but has the potential to be moulded into one, she is an ex war correspondent who strives to put together a good news show not driven by ratings but by content.

Women issues aside Aaron Sorkin is a machine of sharp and flowing dialect, and the overall feel you get from The Newsroom is that it’s trying to preserve some integrity in the profession of journalism. The same way The West Wing created a human approach to the Presidency.

Will McAvoy: What does winning look like to you?
Mackenzie MacHale: Reclaiming the fourth estate. Reclaiming journalism as an honorable profession. A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect, and a return to what’s important; the death of bitchiness; the death of gossip and voyeurism; speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot; a place where we all come together. 

Although the show does have it’s chinks in the armour such as it’s obvious gender issues, it does want to do good things. It does have the potential to do good things, if it can find it’s way through the growing pains. That’s the charm of it, it does want to revitalise the reputation of journalism. In light of the past year in the industry with phone hacking scandals and all that jazz, the industry needs all the help it can get in piecing together a positive image. It may only be a reflection on traditional broadcast journalism, but it’s a start.

The Newsroom premieres in the UK on Tuesday, July 10th on Sky Atlantic.

Side note: Sorkin can make me like Newsroom, but Sorkin can’t make me like Sorkin. Internet Girls unite.


Tweet Me Maybe: Social Networking and Graduates

Huffington Post published a blog on Monday about the use of social networking and job hunting, right as I had the idea for this post. It argues how social media can actually benefit your job search, given how employers seek out extra information on their potential employees. Employers are seeking the social networking profiles to give them even a basic idea of who they are hiring, and more graduates are failing to recognise that what got them into the ‘LAD’ culture of university, will only hurt their chances of being chosen over another stand out candidate.

Social networking users are no longer able to see their online identity counterparts as an outlet for ideological or emotional rants, but another self indulgent and socially damaging tool that can keep them out of employment. Social networking now requires job seekers to wear their best interview face, and be ‘on’, twenty four hours a day.

People are looking for something to use against you, a reason to hire you or a reason not to. I have a friend who recently landed an internship with a university, during the recruitment process they openly admitted to seeking out her Facebook profile and informed her that she was a ‘lot tamer’ than other candidates. The friend will remain unnamed, but the point stands that other candidates were unaware that their online actions would affect their employment prospects. Those pictures of you throwing up in your shoes on Wind Street don’t seem like such a genius idea now, do they? We’re all guilty of chronicling our student life on Facebook,  so adjust your privacy settings or you could risk influencing an employer’s decision with your private details. 

On my Twitter or Facebook accounts, you may come across pictures of bright pink cupcakes. Or the occasional batch of Snickerdoodles. Assumptions can be based off this, either I’m a crazy bored 22 year old who isn’t living the high life of a 22 year old, or I’ll be the employee that gives you a muffin/biscuit/insert-baked-good-of-your-choice basket on your birthday. Some will take it and some will leave it, but they will make a judgement on it- whether your time is consumed with baking, playing FIFA 12, or reading Fifty Shades of Grey (although, who wouldn’t judge you for that?).

I got my Facebook account when I was 16, the idea of an employer judging my employability based on a 16 year old’s hormonal and often juvenile ranting does leave me absolutely mortified. However, the only things viewable on my Facebook publicly include my cover photo and my degree result, my Facebook is just that- mine. Having two Twitter accounts is also advisable, to separate your personal and professional identities, you can then still enjoy the benefits of internet banter with your friends without creating a particular image. Reap the benefits of LinkedIn, which holds no emotional past and only recognises your professional skills and experience. Most graduates have learnt that the internet is now the most viable tool in connecting with prospective employers or influential contacts. Most employers seek out candidates who can present themselves with dignity and restriction, to fit in with the reputations of their companies, and it goes without saying that what you print in black and white can never be retracted- so spend more time on your LinkedIn profile than on Facebook Chat.

What you share with your friends is now what you share with the rest of the online world. Unfortunately, inside jokes are no longer just meant for those on the inside. Speculation can be made upon your photos, comments, and location check ins. So no strip clubs, okay?

Lets go over the basics, one last time:

1. No frisky pictures. I mean really, do we have to go over this one? I can’t believe people still do this, amateurs.

2. Too many dog/cat/Disney character pictures or posts (Guilty as charged) Kind of looks anti social, like we have no friends, or like we are still actually five years old.

3. Tweet rage. This is the one we all fall into and I have a few guilty Tweeters on my list. This includes you, former housemates. Tweet it, delete it.

4. Bitching about your current or previous boss. Rookie mistake, kids.

5. Bitching about anyone. We all do it, raise your hand- first step in overcoming a problem is admitting there is one.

So dear graduates, the future is ours- but privacy certainly isn’t.

The Independent has a post on protecting your online privacy here.

Side note: if anyone argues with me and tries to sell Fifty Shades of Grey as a piece of miraculous  and revolutionary literature I will actually open the biggest can of verbal whoop ass on you. Each to their own, but please spare my Twitter feed of your nightly love affair with Christian Grey. Employers, recognise my love for actual books, but don’t judge me on my tequila love.

Oh and I suppose you can follow me, or check out my LinkedIn. If you’re that way inclined.