[List] - The News Stories Season Three Of The Newsroom Should Cover

Courtesy of HBO

Season one of the Newsroom was entirely structured around the characters reacting to real world events. Season two toned this way down in favour of their own original story, Genoa, and increased character development (successfully or not). While real world events were still incorporated into the narrative, like the Occupy movement or the Election, they were used more as a rally point for the episodes, rather then as the primary motivation for the characters.

Primary or secondary interest besides, one big disappointment for me was the almost complete absence of Hurricane Sandy in season two. This was a huge oversight on the show's part, and should have been the focus of at least one episode, though probably deserving of a two parter. Sandy was a debilitating event, that shut down the city of New York, and would have dramatically effected the lives of these characters. Instead, all we got were two passing references to Sandy relief funds late in the season (I have to wonder if Sandy coverage wasn't something sacrificed in the loss of one episode).

No matter what form the incorporation of real world events takes in the presumptive third season, whether they are brought once more to the forefront, or if they are pushed even further back in favour of original content, 2013 has seen some big stories break that really should be referenced. If the fictional News Night means to keep up the pretence of taking place in our world, not reporting these stories will destroy any suspension of disbelief that is left.

Hit the jump for the list, which includes spoilers for the events of the previous year. In case you're Merlin, or just really unaware of world events.

 Before we begin, let's look at how the previous seasons were structured, temporally. Season one began on 20 April, 2010, and concluded on 8 August, 2011, covering 16 months. Season two picked up two weeks later, on 23 August, 2011, and moved briskly to 6 November, 2012, covering 15 months and some change. If this pattern holds, it stands to reason that season three will start in late November 2012, and conclude sometime around February or March of 2014.

Obviously, those months haven't happened yet, so I don't know what major stories will break in that time. But ignoring them altogether serves another purpose. Sorkin is closing his own temporal gap, making the distance between when the show takes place and when it airs smaller with each cycle. So, for the purposes of this list, not only does the inability to tell the future necessitate the list only going to September of 2013, but also it would be a smarter move for Sorkin to stop in September anyway, to give himself more breathing room for any potential future seasons.

There are two types of stories here: those that could support an entire episode, and those that really only need a mention in the run down meetings. I've grouped events that occurred close enough together to be included in the same episode, and for the sake of order I've listed events chronologically.

John McAfee deported to US - 12 December 2012
Sandy Hook - 14 December 2012

When asked between the first and second seasons about the inclusion of Sandy Hook, Sorkin said,
 "Obviously Newtown is something that was an important moment to all of us and the last thing you want to do is handle it poorly. That’s a tough thing to write about without minimizing it or exploiting it or just spreading cheese wiz all over it. You could stop before Sandy Hook. That is the only way you could do it. On the other hand, there are so many land mines to step on. You want to make sure you don’t do a disservice to the story that is very important to all of us. So at the moment, I am sort of looking down the calendar at Sandy Hook and that is my fear there. I am not a hundred percent sure, (but) I bet we do.”

It was clearly something he was very concerned about, and ultimately he removed the pressure of having to deal with it by ending the season in the far more (narratively) logical place, at the election. And since that episode also covered the Petraeus scandal in as much depth as it needed, Sandy Hook is the next biggest, and last major story of 2012. Sadly.

Reference to John McAfee's magical mystery tour of South America seems like something fun and obscure to include for Neil, because he'd be the only one in the newsroom to have any idea who John McAfee is.

Horse meat scandal - 15 January 2013

The first international story of 2013, the discovery that all across Europe, horse meat had found its way into hamburger supply. The story went on for weeks, as more and more contamination's were discovered, though North America remained largely unaffected. Certainly not a big enough story to base an entire episode around, but worth a mention.

Richard III bones confirmed - 4 February 2013
Pope Benedict resigns -11 and 28 February 2013
CNN "poop cruise" coverage - 14 February 2013
Brussels diamond heist - 18 February 2013

None of these stories deserves to be singled out, but all occurred in February, and all could provide at least a throw away line while the narrative breezes through the month. CNN's "poop cruise" coverage demands mockery, in part because of the inherent absurdity, and in part because the Newsroom is meant to be making a commentary on the state of modern journalism, and modern journalism certainly died a little the day CNN devoted 24 hour coverage to the Carnival cruise liner that was a bit manky.

Hugo Chavez dies - 5 March 2013
Pope Francis elected- 13 March 2013
Higgs Boson confirmed - 14 March 2013

Confirmation of the existence of the Higg Boson should be the motivator here, for several reasons. First, ACN has yet to reveal a science correspondent (in fact, aside from Will, Sloan, Elliot and Jane in Washington, ACN seems to employ no other anchors, reporters, or contributors at all). Second, Sorkin proved on West Wing that he can write with some passion on subjects of science, and could probably do so again. And third, considering the announcement came the day after the election of Pope Francis, there is a nice bit of synergy in being able to include both of those events in the same episode.

Boston Marathon Attacks - 15 April 2013

Obviously, this would stand on its own. It cannot be ignored. This is the sort of major news that would be expected to be treated with the same deference that the Giffords shooting or the Bin Laden assassination received. It could also be used as a way to promote more development in the Elliot character, perhaps in a fashion similar to Will's rise to greatness on September 11th. Have Will unable to anchor, for whatever reason, and give Elliot the chance to shine. In the finale, Will was already grooming him to be his replacement, saying, "People need to get used to seeing you deliver big news." Maybe this could be his chance.

Savar building collapses - 24 April 2013
Cleveland kidnapping victims found - 6 May 2013

The discovery of the Cleveland kidnapping victims is legitimate news in and of itself, but I think Sorkin should try to weave a little more narrative connectivity into the various episodes. The way the series has been presented so far, it is not readily apparent that any time has passed between episodes. Easiest way to do that is to cover news stories that have longer time frames, or reoccur. So, cover the Pope's resignation in February, and the new Pope's election in March. Or, in this case, cover the discovery of the kidnapped women in May, and the eventual suicide of Ariel Castro in September.

Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks - 6-9 June 2013

All the while Jerry Dantana railed against the Obama administration this past season, I kept thinking was how much his head was going to explode once Snowden released his information. And covering it right at the start of the leak, when there was so much material to comb through and new information coming out every day is far more narratively interesting then the eventual hunting of Snowden as he hunkered down in the Moscow airport. Though, it would be equally funny to see Jim sent to Moscow to try to corner Snowden.

Supreme Court overturning DOMA and the Voting Rights Act - 26 June 2013

 The Newsroom has no established gay characters (indeed, the main cast are all aggressively heterosexual), and this episode would be an excellent time for Sorkin to out at least one of the secondary characters. And, few other incidents in 2013 could stand to get the dander up of the opinionated and passionate Will, Mac or Charlie than the repeal of the Voting Rights Act. This news story, more than any other, has the markings of perfect Sorkin fodder all over it.

Japanese nuclear reactors leaking - 22 July 2013
Syria - August/September 2013

The Japanese reactor leaks would provided a nice connection for Sloan to the original story as seen in season one. That's it, really. Don't get me wrong, it's a big story, and shows no sign of getting solved or going away. But it would be a subplot at best.

The bigger story would be the threat of another Middle Eastern war, and allow both plenty of time for Sorkin to dip into the politics and constitutionality of declaring war, and allow the episode to time slide throughout the conflict, from the initial call to war, to the apparent agreement brokered by the Russians to preserve peace. The entire situation is rife with arguments and positions that Sorkin is perfectly equipped to write about, considering he has already done so on West Wing.

Washington Navy Ship Yards shooting - 16 Sept 2013

It would be cold and bleak to both begin and end a season with mass shootings, but the recent tragedy in Washington could at least give Will a major issue to rally behind for the finale: gun control. Season one had the Tea Party, season two was sort of about accountability, and gun control could be the target topic for season three, especially considering that Will is already an established proponent of gun control, as seen early in season one. Start and end with a tirade on the side of sensibility and decency, and broach the subject that the actual news networks don't, and the politicians won't.

A Bit More Reality

 On a related note, one of my biggest issues with the Genoa storyline was the ultimate meaninglessness of it, as a news story. The series insists on "existing" in the real world, but we never see outside of the walls of ACN. News coverage from FOX and MSNBC and CNN is glimpsed on monitors, but ACN exists within it's own protective fictional bubble. The Genoa story would have been a massive thing in the US media industry. Dan Rather was fired for far less in 2006, and that signalled pretty much the end of an era in broadcast journalism, the very era Sorkin so revers on the show. It is difficult, I understand, to show a fictional corporation having an effect on past events, but any sign that these characters don't exist in a vacuum would go a long way.

As far as I can see, the easiest way to do that would be to have a bunch of newsmen on the show, playing themselves. Something akin to the Stargate Atlantis episode that guest starred Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. Get anchors used to playing themselves, like Bill O'Reilly, Tom Brokaw, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow or Brian Williams (who already has a family connection with HBO). I understand that Newsroom is shot in LA, and these individuals all work in New York, but would it really be that difficult to fly Jeff Daniels to New York for a weekend, and shoot a scene at a benefit, or university lecture or some damned thing that sees these people, fictional and real, interacting as peers? If only for a scene?

Why not have Sloan write a book on the financial system, and go on the Daily Show to hock it? Hell, not only would that be a cheeky shout out to Olivia Munn's time as a correspondent, but it wouldn't even have to be Jon Stewart. Get John Oliver to guest as himself, they could fly him out to California to shoot it, and it would reference yet another prominent story from the summer of 2013 (during which time, Sorkin himself was a guest on the show). Anything to support the notion that what ACN and News Night is doing is having an affect on the country. On the same note, are there no politicians, or former politicians able or willing to play themselves on the show? John McCain and Joe Biden appeared on Parks and Rec, why not have Will get an exclusive interview with someone of influence? Something to strengthen the facade posed by the narrative.

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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