I might be the only person with a TV in America thinking the following: “I feel like the only thing missing from my life is a really good hourlong drama about a newspaper.”
I’ve been thinking this for a while. I fell in love with “The West Wing” while I was a college journalist and I could never figure out why they didn’t try and spin Washington Post White House correspondent Danny Concannon off into his own show.
Before anyone jumps on me, let me assure you that I’m aware that Season 5 of “The Wire” took place in the offices of the Baltimore Sun. I haven’t seen “The Wire” yet, but I still don’t feel like it completely counts. It was only one season and it wasn’t even a failed season; it just wasn’t planned to go any longer.
A newsroom seems like a logical enough place for a TV drama to occur. It’s got all the staple elements of medical and legal dramas and then some. Insane competition made crazier by variable workplace hours? Check. Employees driven to the brink of severe substance abuse because of the nature of their jobs? Check. Ethical dilemmas? Check. Ability to turn real-world events into plots? Uh, yeah.
So why hasn’t this happened yet? Seriously — this isn’t rhetorical — why? The only long-lived, journalism-based shows I can really remember — thought I’m admittedly only 24 — are sitcoms and dealt with journalism only in a fringe aspect.
I don’t believe it’s got anything to do with the thought that “no one likes journalists.” Lawyers are the most despised professional group on the face of the earth (besides maybe the aforementioned politicians of “The West Wing”) and their shows are cleaning up. Mobsters aren’t insanely popular, either, but they sustained one of the most popular shows in TV history. Hell, even polygamists have their own TV show.
Maybe it’s got something to do with the whole “journalists don’t like to be the story” thing, but I think that’s crazy, too. I’m a journalist and I could care less if I were made into a front page story (you know, so long as it was a good one).
There are plenty of celebrities with ties to journalism, or just loudmouthed opinions on the state of the country that could be easily expressed on a journalism TV show. Let’s get them together:
Executive producer: George Clooney
He did a bang-up job with “Good Night, And Good Luck.” His dad was a journalist. He has to be involved with this.
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
“Studio 60” was a bust, but Sorkin proved he understands the intricacies of the media on “The West Wing” and “Sports Night,” another brilliant-but-cancelled casualty.
Cast members: Just thinking out loud here. I’d rock an ensemble cast: Rob Lowe as a youngish, idealistic type on the city beat (not a far cry from his Sam Seaborn persona on “West Wing); Jay Mohr as an obnoxious sports columnist (not a far cry from Jay Mohr in general); Gaius Charles as a newbie who’s been plagiarizing to keep up with the rush of the job (watch the Smash Williams steroid saga from Season 1 of “Friday Night Lights” and you’ll be convinced he’s perfect for this role); Chi McBride as the somewhat-crotchety old editor who smokes and drinks a lot and Linda Carter as the publisher that’s all about her bottom line.
I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a good idea. Let’s get the best of the best together and start working on “Journalism: The TV Show.”