We know that The Newsroom characters drink at a fictional bar, but how distanced from reality is Aaron Sorkin in his portrayal of an actual newsroom? Surely Coldplay's "Fix You" doesn't get piped through the space when a breaking story is coming through, but this is a television show, so we're okay with our feelings being manipulated by a pop song when appropriate.
But aside from the criticisms of the show being too elitist, too wordy, too misogynistic, or simply being a platform Sorkin built for himself upon which we can all gaze in wonder at his giant brain... is it basically realistic? We asked real life news anchor Pat Kiernan of NY1 for his take on the HBO show, which has its first season coming to a close this Sunday night. Kiernan told us:
"I was a huge fan of SportsNight, and loved The West Wing, so I was drawn to The Newsroom from the beginning. I love that Sorkin tries to make the audience smarter and provoke some thought about the political decisions we make.
There's a lot that the series gets right about the dynamic of putting together a live newscast every night, but it misses the mark in a couple of obvious ways. The people on the staff seem to spend a lot of time talking about what they're going to do and not a lot of time actually doing their work. There's some lively conversation in the newsroom at NY1, but just as often you'll see a room full of people silently typing or screening a video feed.
The other thing that never quite makes sense is the fact that the show claims to be set at a 24-hour news channel, yet the pace and focus seem more consistent with what you'd find in a traditional network newsroom where you've only got one deadline a day. There are all of these mid-afternoon discussions about new angles on breaking stories, seemingly with no regard to the fact that someone at their own network is on the air right now waiting for new details.
I find these things a little irksome because I'm in the business, but I don't think you watch the show to get a realistic view of TV news. You watch because it's a smart show. I've been tuning in each week and will continue."
When we contacted Rachel Maddow, she replied that she doesn't watch television... which Jeff Daniels' character Will McAvoy seems to have in common with her. So, Sorkin definitely got some things right.