Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's Broken in the Newsroom?

It wasn't until I sat down and began this assignment, that I realized just how much I enjoyed the HBO hit series, "The Wire." Although I did only watch the 5th season (because that was the assignment), I know for a fact that I will watch the remaining four seasons in my spare time. The show itself is brilliant in my opinion. Although there are many "cop shows" out there, this clearly sets itself apart from any of the others. This is my own personal opinion, and it very well may be that I enjoyed it so much because I could easily relate. I myself live near the Baltimore area, where the show takes place, and have actually interned for the Baltimore Sun until recently. Therefore, to see a newspaper on television that I worked for was beyond intrigueing.

While each of the seasons had a different concentration, the fifth season mainly concentrated on the flaws of the media and how they affect society. This made the question given very easy to answer. I could tell in each episode a new flaw was focused on. One particular episode in the season, episode 52, "Unconfirmed Reports" was among my personal favorites that I watched. The name itself shares with the viewing audience some of the major flaws in our media. These include making money over the product you produce, lack of validity in reporting and lack of publishing important issues to the readers.

In this particular episode, there are many instances that you see these particular flaws. They don't necessarily occur in the newsroom, more so in the police aspect of the show but ultimately get reported back to the newsroom. One instance where this occurs may not seem like such a flaw, but does show the greed of particular characters in the show, and that they care more about their own money than the well-being of others, and doing their jobs. When McNulty arrives at a crime scene on a bus in the very beginning of the show, after his cop car got a flat tire. his reasoning for doing so is that he didn't think he would be reimbursed for a cab ride that would actually be quicker. He would rather save money rather than arrive to the crime scene promptly to do his job.

Fabrication, or lack of validity is another flaw seen in the not just the newsroom but in media in general. At the very end of the story, McNulty becomes guilty of altering a crime scene so as to make it look like the death of a homeless man is in fact the work of a supposed serial killer. His failure to report the truth shows that reporters and investigators will go to any lengths to get themselves a news story even if it means going as far as altering the murder of a human being.

Lastly, of the many flaws in the newsroom that were presented in this season, one of the scenes that interested me the most was also in episode 52. When the reporters showed up to the Orioles game to try and find their biggest fan. The topic for the story itself shows a flaw. While the show portrays plenty of other important news stories that are worth reporting, Templeton is told to report about the Orioles' biggest fan? This seems odd and leads the audience to believe that there is a lack of newsworthy stories being reported these days. This may be because reporters are getting lazy and simply writing simple stories just to "slip by" and get paid.

Watching this TV show was a a great experience for me. It really opened my eyes up and made me realize that with the decrease of the newspaper industry, the newsroom seems to have more and more flaws. What I thought was a "perfect" industry actually has many problems. I cannot wait to be a professional writer one day (Hopefully!) and hope that by that time the newsroom can try and fix some of these imperfections because although it may only be portrayed in television show, they do in fact occur in the "real world."

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