Dramatizing Journalism

Aatif Rashid contrasts The Newsroom with the recently canceled BBC series The Hour:

Unlike The Hour, [The Newsroom] doesn’t take the inherently liberal agenda of journalism seriously. Journalism has always been a liberal institution, and while this may give some credence to the conservative argument about a liberal media bias, it makes sense when one considers that the function of a journalist is to reveal information that the existing power structures won’t reveal, to in a sense challenge the dominance of the institutions by giving a voice to the voiceless.

The Hour takes this liberal agenda seriously. Journalists like [The Hour‘s] Freddie go out of their way to depict immigrants in a climate of xenophobia, gay people in a climate of homophobia, or anti-war protestors in a climate of war mongering. Additionally, The Hour tackled the issue of government censorship directly in its first season, pitting the new team of journalists against government ministers trying to influence the coverage.

The Hour is also not afraid to skirt the extreme liberal edge of politics (namely, communism). Not only are Freddie’s liberal views tinged with Communist ideas (he considers quoting Marx in his interview), but the first season also contains a significant plotline about a potential Communist spy in the BBC. When this spy is finally revealed, however, the show doesn’t sanctimoniously glorify his downfall but allows him a more subtle and conflicted exit. “I don’t know why they don’t suspect us more, journalists,” the spy says to Freddie. “We’re thrust into world events, life changing events. They expect us not to be changed.” It’s a sentiment worthy of John le Carré and a piercing look at liberal journalism with The Hour‘s characteristic nuance.

Previous Dish on The Newsroom here, here, and here.