Finest Hours: The Newsroom Thread

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Spoilers within.


Yep. Don. New favorite. I KNOW.

A list, in no particular order, of things that rang absolutely true:

1. Doing the news while half-drunk/baked during/after a party. This happens so much more often than you’d think, because otherwise you’re asking people to stay sober and at the office 24-7 on the off chance their pagers might go off and most people don’t like that. I once got a call on a story on my way to Morton’s for an anniversary dinner. I was wearing heels and a gown and had crammed my phone and a notebook and a pen in my tiny stupid sparkly purse.

2. Doing DRY RUNS of breaking news. Look, shit we ain’t seen before is a rare commodity. Everyone knows when an election will happen, and within a few days of when a war will break out, so you can actually plan for this shit. Too few newsrooms do it, and then most of them fall back on “well, chaos of the moment blah blah blah” to explain why they sucked. Buy me enough scotch sometime, I’ll tell you the story of the night the Iraq War broke out (see also #1). You have to THINK about what you really want to know, should something big happen, and that requires gaming out various scenarios, planning for what you can’t plan for.

3. Charlie, all haunted and still just for a moment, talking about ’91. Everybody’s got one of those. I’m very serious, I will give you a ferret of your choosing should somebody write me that Charlie flashback ep. Him and Leona young and in Vietnam, him in Baghdad alone, him meeting Will and that whole thing … I need to see that at some point.

4. The waiting period, when it seems perfectly normal to talk about your own shit because people have to call you back and people have to look stuff up and there’s just this dead space in the day. Dead space, and not two brain cells to rub together in Jim’s head. I like Lisa. She’s a little bit of an annoying hipster but she’s growing on me.

5. Speaking of waiting, good on Charlie for making the point that the president was gonna say this shit anyway, and good on Mackenzie for making the point that there is always value in knowing something more than you knew a moment ago. Sometimes, in extremity, doing that job, that’s all you have.

So Don. Reporting the news. This is a very old job. It’s a very simple job. We’ve commodified and professionalized and romanticized it, complicated it, made up systems that sometimes serve us well and sometimes do us ill, but at its heart this is what it is.

You find out the truth and you tell everybody with whatever means are at your disposal. With paper and pen, with these here Interwebs, with TV and radio and a thousand dollars of equipment, with your voice, shouting from the rooftops, or low to a few who matter. That’s all this is. It shouldn’t be as hard as we’ve made it, telling stories to one another. It shouldn’t be more than it is. What it is, is enough.

A.

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