I just finished watching HBO’s Newsroom pilot, which was great. You can watch the full episode on YouTube. In it an anchor and Executive Producer that recognize that TV news has been softened by pandering to the lowest common denominator and to what is popular. Near the end of the episode the news manager comes in and talks to the jaded anchor,
News Manager: Anchors having an opinion isn’t a new phenomenon. Murrow had one and that was the end of McCarthyism. Cronkite had one and that was the end of Vietnam.
Anchor: I’m not those guys.
News Manager: I’m betting all my money on you’re wrong.
During the entire episode they are building up the idea that the news today is toothless but people are hungry for truth and soon there will be a ‘tipping point’ as the spirited Executive Producer puts it.
“We’re coming to a tipping point. I know you know that. There’s going to be a huge conversation. Is government an instrument of good or is it every man for himself? Is there something bigger we want to reach for or is self interest our basic resting pulse. You and I are among the few people who can frame that debate.”
It’s great TV and I’m hooked already but the premise seems outdated. It’s not a news anchor that will bring the next change. We don’t need a ballsy news crew to bring us that message anymore and more importantly, the people in the news aren’t ‘among the few’ that can frame that debate.
Many many more people are helping frame the debate today on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other places on the Internet. How to have the debate on the Internet may need some honing. There isn’t yet a great way to have a useful discourse but there will be. Wikipedia found a way to deliver an enormous amount of information written from a neutral point of view that would have seemed impossible before it was there and as the tipping point gets closer, people will find a way to use connectivity to take control of the message and have a better debate, and be more informed than the medium of TV is capable of.