The Newsroom and the utopia of a free journalism

The journalists sometimes can be pretty pessimistic about the present and the future of the profession, having in mind that most of the media have turned into companies with the main interest of selling news and being profitable. That´s why everybody who sometimes has this feeling should have a look at The Newsroom in order to raise their hope about the profession.

HBO, an American premium cable and satellite television network, is offering some of the best TV series of our age, like The Sopranos, The Wire or Game of Thrones as part of a huge list of top quality TV dramas. Thousands of post could be written talking about them but you can just watch it and judge for yourself.

The Newsroom (2012-2014) is an American television series with 25 episodes and three seasons created by Aaron Sorkin for HBO. The show follows the daily life of a fictional news channel, the Atlantics Cables News (ACN), with the eccentric Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) as the loved as well as hated presenter. He and his team inform about the recent facts like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill by BP, the killing of Osama Bin Laden or the Boston Marathon bombings, giving an exciting and idealizing view of the journalism.

Some lessons to learn are that there are things more relevant than the ratings, like the importance to do researches and use as much sources as possible. But sometimes, making these points a reality seems complicated to us. Their idealism and integrity are attractive but unfortunately these journalistic practices are far away from the reality.

When the profits are the only thing that matters, is freelance journalism possible? Some treatments of the news can result, somehow, dangerous for the interests of the company which the media belongs to. Those interests can destroy the freedom of speech and the right to information. Can nowadays the ethics be stronger than the economic and political interests? That is what the fictional world of The Newsroom shows.

Everyone should be informed about what´s going on in the world, either through Internet, TV, radio or press. But everyone should also know that the most recognisable media belong to huge multimedia companies with different kinds of business. Actually, just a few companies, most of them have their origin in the USA, control the biggest media, the ones that most of the people around the world consume. These are some of the most important:

  • Bertelsmann: German conglomerate which includes, among others companies,
    the RTL Group, one of the biggest television broadcasters in Europe, and Random
    House, the biggest book publisher in the world.
  • CBS Corporation: from USA, with a hugely successfully network television
    and radio broadcasting.
  • News Corporation: conglomerate leaded by Rupert Murdoch with Fox Network, 20th Century Fox, The Sun and
    The Times. The company has faced legal problems because of hacking the phones
    of celebrities, royalty and public citizens in UK.
  • Time Warner: from USA, it owns CNN, NBA TV, TNT, HBO and Warner Brothers
  • The Walt Disney Company: also from USA. Some of its properties are the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar
    and Marvel Comics.
  • Viacom: it controls MTV, VH1 and BET, among many
    others TV channels, and also the Paramount Pictures Corporation.
  • Comcast: with NBC and Universal Studios as the most important properties.

These media conglomerates have strong connections with political parties, banks and corporations. According to their economic and political aims, they can easily manipulate the messages and produce a strong influence on the public opinion.

Fortunately, Internet has opened many possibilities for different kinds of media. It’s the place where we can find a real pluralism, but most of the people consume the news from the biggest ones. What do we get then? Fake independence, dummy pluralism and false free press. If the audience, as news consumers, are not aware of what is behind  the media, the critical thinking is just impossible. Anyway, we can always watch dramas like The Newsroom and think about a brighter utopian future for the journalism.

Isabel Barragán Vera

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