In the opening sequence of Aaron Sorkin’s new drama on HBO about a US cable news show, The Newsroom, anchorman Will McAvoy delivers a diatribe to earnest journalism students about the reasons why America is no longer the “greatest country in the world. It was one of the best moments we have seen on television in a long time.
“ We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last eve election. And we didn’t scare so easy.We cultivated the greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy, we reached for the stars, acted like men, aspired to intelligence and didn’t belittle it … we were able to do all these things and be all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. Just in case you wander into a voting booth there’s some things you should know. We’re seventh in literacy, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor and number four in exports. Now, none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student but when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America’s not the greatest country in the world anymore.”
When his speech was over you were left with the feeling that something just happened. Aaron Sorkin is known for tons of television. Most people know him from his much awarded and acclaimed “The West Wing”. This first episode of his new show revolved around the new producers and staffers coming together to help break the story on the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That was a massive story, with huge, far-reaching implications for BP, Haliburton, and our own federal government.It was in those moments of their hustle on the story that you came to think. Will anyone ever tell a story like that again? Interesting enough the first thing that one lead producer went to was the human watch and rescue element. We all know now, that was not the real story.
Like this on your Facebook Page.
Read:GMA Anchor Robin Roberts Sick With Rare Blood Disease!
Network news viewing has fallen by more than 50 per cent since 1980 and the cable channels have developed a news presence more reliant on personality-driven shows than straightforward reporting. CNN just had their lowest ratings in the history of the channel. Drake, Chris Brown, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian are ratings high scorers. News magazine programs, once the source for actual researched interesting stories, have been replaced with murder mysteries about people long forgotten. Don’t get me wrong there is a place for such things. On the other hand, I do not think we need 6 shows on murders with detailed renactments.
Something peculiar but telling of our times happened in 2006. Reports surfaced that CBS News would most likely not renew Dan Rather’s contract. According to a Washington Post article, sources from CBS said that executives at the network decided “there is no future role for Rather”.
On June 20, 2006, CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus announced that Rather would leave the network after 44 years.Rather issued a separate statement which accompanied the news of the departure:
I leave CBS News with tremendous memories. But I leave now most of all with the desire to once again do regular, meaningful reporting. My departure before the term of my contract represents CBS’s final acknowledgement, after a protracted struggle, that they had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantive work there. As for their offers of a future with only an office but no assignments, it just isn’t in me to sit around doing nothing. So I will do the work I love elsewhere, and I look forward to sharing details about that soon.
After being replaced Dan Rather said quiet accurately what was the going theme for news on television. While referring to Katie Couric, Rather stated that “the mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ show ethos to the ‘Evening News,’ and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience. He was 100% right. If you have ever watched Jay Leno’s “Man On the Street” segment you would know how perilously close we are to cultural death. We have a nation where people rely on twitter for the news blip, but rarely click the story link or read anything more. Watch 15 minutes of your local news and you will see snippets of “hip, flip drip”. That’s all it is. Women who are scantily and immodestly clad and men who want to be your best friend. The weather meteorologist is just the follow up blame guy for the week’s weather. He is cast on camera to tell you how you should dress and what the cutest kitten this week looks like.