Spotlight: HBO’s The Newsroom – A Few Thoughts About it’s Relevance

Last night, I decided to watch the new HBO series, The Newsroom.  I have been anxiously awaiting this show because I am absolutely dismayed at the way cable news has perverted news coverage and even more incensed by the way politicians are exploiting cable news to support their agendas.

I know so many brilliant people in media who have left the industry primarily because they are resigned to the notion that there is no place for real news reporting and thus no place for them.  Cable news is merely sheep’s clothing for one hour opinion editorials and facts are no longer about what happened, but rather how you interpret what happened.  I have watched the passion of my friends and colleagues seep from their souls as they walk away from coveted positions in disgust, leaving the news world to those who are more focused on ratings over substance.

Someone very close to me has written several poignant essays on the state of our world today.  He won’t publish them for fear that he will be killed.  He is afraid that if he speaks the truth that he will be hunted down.  I watched him seek out what he sees as safe actors to represent his opinion in an effort to sidestep any danger that may come to the people he loves.  Is this really what the world has come to?  Unfortunately the answer is yes.  I have had enough personal life experience to tell you that the feds really can track you down and inquire about why you have relocated and question you about your intentions.  And with GPS technology, they really can watch every move you make.  I did not believe this until it happened to me, so I have respect for my friend’s reluctance.

And if the feds can track you down and threaten you for fear of what you might do, or for the affect that you might have, why should anyone speak truth to power?  Why should anyone do anything that will have positive societal impact?

When I consider this, I can’t help but to think about how oppressive society has become.  I used to work for a very prestigious non-profit company.  I worked 60 hour work weeks as an hourly employee and was generally not paid overtime and even though I worked among the top ranking senior executives, I never felt comfortable speaking the truth about anything.  I could talk to my posse, but that had limitations.  So much of my work experience at this company was about how cool you were with “the right people” and very little credence was given to the old fashioned hard working people that genuinely cared about and fought for the mission.  I did not go to an Ivy League college and because of that and the fact that I worked an administrative job, my contributions, my capabilities were not appreciated.  I tried every maneuver I could think of to demonstrate my loyalty and capability only to be thwarted by those obsessed with looking good by any means necessary or others obsessed with job security and the need to prove their value at someone else’s expense.  Some of my colleagues who demonstrated less commitment, less professionalism and less compassion were promoted or awarded large bonuses and salary increases, while people like me were subjected to ridicule.   I wish I could tell you how often my peers told me there is no hope for a management career track for administrative staff.  It really did  break my heart to find out that they were right.  I couldn’t help but to feel that unless I operated exactly within the margins that were assigned to me that my efforts were meaningless.  My former boss, who actually was better than most of the senior executives in the company would give me the regular pat on the head with the usual “good job” comments, but I did not see parity in compensation and it was only in the year that I made it clear that I was leaving that I even began to get any real acknowledgement.  I worked at this company for five years!

As I watched new employees join the company, I noticed one consistent character.  Kiss ass and make nice with those who can hurt you and then hurt everyone else when necessary for your survival.  I didn’t believe what I was seeing at first, but after watching this pattern over and over again, I realized this is how it is for most in corporate America and that is also the same disease that has infected our news.

I eventually left this non profit and work for yet another prestigious non-profit that shall remain nameless since I do not have permission to write about them.  First of all, I am paid for the time I work, including overtime and my employer worked with me to chart out a fulfilling career path that results in a management role.  Secondly, and most importantly, I have been encouraged to share my insights and I am acknowledged for my contributions and encouraged to stretch beyond my comfort zone.  When I needed to have surgery, I was told for the first time in my professional life, too take all of the time I need to get well and my employer honored my privacy and carried on without me and without threatening the loss of my job.  In my first 90 days of employment, my boss actually took time to give me the support I needed to succeed in my job.  She rallied some of my constituents as coaches and they all invested their time to lift me up as I struggled through my new and very demanding job.  This is the first time I have ever experienced something like this and the positive affects of being respected and embraced have resulted in a new outlook on life and a new vigor.

You may ask why this is important and how does this tie into The Newsroom show.  Well, for the first time in my life, I am in a job where I feel empowered.  This does not mean that the job is without challenge.  I have all sorts of challenges I face everyday. But the difference is that I am no longer obsessed with covering my ass nor am I compelled to operate within the status quo.  What’s on my mind is how I can be the best at my job, how can I make a difference for those I work with and how can I best fulfill the company’s mission.  I am on fire for my employer and on fire for myself.  I have started new personal projects like a new blog site and a new organic garden and a new internet radio station, all because I finally have people in addition to my husband that are invested in my success.

The Newsroom debuted last night and I experienced this same feeling of empowerment.  I wanted to run into my front yard and scream “I mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  I am tired of this opinionated crap called news.  I am sick and tired of ratings based news.  I hate that ABC’s This Week is being hosted by the safe and underwhelming George Stephanopoulos.  Why can’t Jake Tapper be the host?  He’s so much better.  I hate the way people like Peggy Noonan who I used to respect, seem to be selling out for faux relevancy.  I am angry that people are judged by whether or not they are Democrat or Republican.  “Why can’t we all just get along?”  Why can’t we come together on real issues like food safety and a real green energy program and jobs, yes jobs?  How is it acceptable that corporate America sits on profits and freezes hiring while maneuvering to oust a president? Why can’t congress come together to pass legislation that will actually revive our economy now?  Why can’t Johnny read?  It’s because we’ve lost our way.  Winning is more important than taking care of our fellow man.  Showing how much you’re right and everyone else is wrong has become status quo.  And forcing people to play it your way or get nothing, has become all to commonplace.  We no longer negotiate.  We no longer look for balance or fairness or seek to protect what is best for the greater good.  What is the price we pay for this is apathy?  Have you ever noticed that people will pull out their cell phones to video a tragedy before calling 911?  We’ve lost our compassion.  We’re only interested in the news we want to hear rather than the facts of what happened.  There is no more real hard hitting news.  Programs that actually benefit the people of these United States have become pawns in political chess.  We have allowed the quality of our education to become a joke and at the end of the day the people who can make a difference are mocked  and ridiculed and they eventually get discouraged and go away.  Just like I did with my old job.  Just like my friends who have left the media and are resigned to howl at the moon.  I believe that The Newsroom is the voice in the dark for all of us who see the dumming down of America and hope that it sparks something in you the way it has for me.  I hope that anyone reading this blog will get up and do something, one thing that will make you feel good about yourself and who you are as am American citizen.  If you hate your job and feel unappreciated, find a way to get another job or start your own business.  If you want my recommendation for where you can go to work for a great company, send me an email.  If you have a hobby that you are passionate about, email me if you want some help to get it off the ground.

Gone are the days that I will sit around and do nothing while the societal muckrakers and corporate kiss asses run this world into the ground.  I am looking for the next Cronkite and Brinkley.  Is that you?  If so then get out here and say something?  Speak truth to power.  I think that is what HBO’s The Newsroom show is about.  Get up off your ass and do something.  Stand for something.  Take a chance.  It is the path to making our country great again.  Be bold and prosper my friends!



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