To say that we need “The Newsroom” back on the air is an understatement.
Superficially, it is easy to say this as an avid viewer of the first three seasons, and someone who found them spectacular even when some critics weighed them out as polarizing. They were inspiring, dramatic gut-punches that somehow often still found a way to contain optimism. Tonally, it was a show different than many others at the time, one where its hero in Will McAvoy was allowed to be genuinely heroic, but also flawed. He was pedantic and occasionally moralistic, but we often wanted our news anchors to be.
“The Newsroom” excelled at taking on issues in the journalistic community, whether it be Presidential Election coverage, misinformed sources, troublesome guests, and constant questioning about a host’s political leanings. It wasn’t afraid to anger anyone, or shows the flaws in the media where sometimes someone with either little understanding of the business or with controversial opinions can run the show.
In the end, though, what the show did best is give hope to journalists and to people watching said journalists. When it came to the actual people who worked at “News Night,” they wanted to be the best reporters that they could be. They took their job seriously, contacted sources, and reinforced hope that the truth mattered. This is what you wanted your media to be. Some out there criticized creator Aaron Sorkin for this, saying that the entire series was him wagging his finger to the media and offering instruction on how they should do their job. Our interpretation was different, that this was him celebrating the best days of the press and presenting the imperfect ideal of what it could be.
Many years removed, it’s now time for it to return. The reasoning is what makes it so complicated.
It’s disappointing and distressing to live in a world where the legitimacy of every reporter is questioned. Yet, here we are. The fake-news epidemic is so rampant that it’s hard to find a single publication that isn’t branded with the label at one point or another. If you are a journalist online, someone with an egg profile on social media has likely thrown the term your way. Fake news. Fake reporter. It’s hurtful, and not because you’re a “snowflake” or any other disrespectful term that’s been bandied about. It’s because you’ve given your entire career, often decades, for the sake of preserving your integrity, hiding your political viewpoint and working long hours for often little pay. It’s because you’ve been yelled at by wrongdoers you’ve exposed, been threatened with legal action for the sake of finding answers, and in some cases judged on your appearance over your words. You’ve worked hard for that reputation, and to see it cut down with a propaganda term is heartbreaking — or, to be more accurate, it’s someone ripping your heart out while it’s still beating.
Sorkin is a mind brilliant enough to touch on these issues, and the same goes to Jeff Daniels in the McAvoy role. They can handle a story such as the modern destruction of the press with delicacy, dignity, fairness, and with the right amount of positivity and restraint. They can highlight the heroes, showcase the struggles, and remind everyone of what a veteran journalist goes through. There are many ways in which the political process is thought of as a circus these days for both parties; for journalists, trying to navigate the many clowns and ringmasters leads to often taking a surgical approach. This should be showcased.
They could tell a story about the protests across the nation, about former media leaders being in key White House positions, or about how ratings seem to now mandate bias. We certainly understand that a new season would not be ready for another year at the very least, if not longer, but these are issues that are not going away. The media is still in many ways just entering the tunnel, driving carefully and hoping to avoid accidents. The light is still to be seen on the other side, but you know it’s there. So, you press on.
And so, we hope that HBO will bring “The Newsroom” back. Longtime viewers need it, newcomers need it, and in many ways, the journalistic community needs it. Let Will McAvoy tell us if America is the greatest country in the world once more. (Photo: HBO.)