Oscar Wilde didn’t seem to like journalists or journalism. There are many quotes attesting to that claim but I can’t remember any so I’m opting to open with a quote from Rebecca West (author of the Sentinel) who believed; “Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space.”
A tv show, The Newsroom, premièred recently. Created by the talented Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Social network), The Newsroom is quite simply about a news channel and their trials and tribulations in the wake of a floundering American society. However, some journalists who seek to fill space, namely “Dr. Tim Stanley” believe that The Newsroom, like West Wing, focuses on characters both sanctimonious and out of touch with modernism.
Apparently the good Dr. Stanley believes characters of wit, integrity and the ability to do more than just pander to a, quite frankly, stupid audience are no longer wanted in the world. It might be worth noting here that the good Dr. Stanley is a historian, a point I will return to later when I take a literary 2×4 to his cyber persona.
The world does need Jed Bartlet’s and Will McAvoy’s. The world needs idealists willing to stake their reputations for the betterment of society. The world does not need a bunch of journalists content with telling audiences that Kate Middleton’s hiking boots were ridiculously expensive or that the President of the world’s greatest superpower enjoys playing basketball and getting his children puppies. No, the world needs to know that they’re getting obliterated by corporate giants. The world needs to know that there are men willing to stand against real terrorism, not just a bunch of stereotypical men who live in areas so isolated that they do not have access to shaving products.
As for the media. Well, the world needs a media hell bent on leaving no stone unturned, no secret unheard, no memo unread. The world does not need a media that simply reconstructs facts, figures and sound-bites to gain a better Neilson ranking.
Let us move onto Dr. Stanley’s issues with Aaron Sorkin. Apparently, the underutilisation of other ethnicities is an unforgivable deadly sin. Not that it is worth noting that some of the best actors are articulate ‘white’ men. Not that it is worth noting that Sorkin himself considered an alternate colored man for the role of the president but opted for the son of immigrants with a name Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez to play the role instead. But no, let us shackle Sorkin and throw him away for making good decisions. While Dr. Stanley prosecutes Sorkin, he wishes also to remind readers that great dialogues delivered by actors on the move is merely artistic arrogance that is not only banal but also shows nothing.
Perhaps the good Dr. Stanley was watching the West Wing on mute and failed to understand the depth of the ‘banter’ traded between the walkers.
I have nothing against the good Dr. Stanley; surely a man with a Ph.D. is not an idiot. But I do stand against Dr. Stanley’s inability to appreciate the cinematic, literary and ideological superiority of Aaron Sorkin’s work. I stand against his bigotry in declaring Sorkin’s work antiquated. Here’s my final word on the issue; if characters from the West Wing and The Newsroom have no place in modern day, where do characters such as Don Draper and the ever increasing gang of vampires stack up in relevance to modern day society?
Journalism is great when the arguments of journalists are the products of intelligent and insightful thought. Journalism is an abomination when it aspires to the behaviour of the bored child with a magnifying glass on an unbelievable bright summer day.