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The Newsroom

Last night, I saw the season premiere of Aaron Sorkin's new show The Newsroom.

While I haven't heard about anyone being knifed in Pakistan while covering a Shiite protest [being a bomb blast victim is more likely Mr. Sorkin], that wasn't what made me dislike the show. And one episode in, it really isn't fair to make a judgement on what the show might shape up to be.

For me, The Newsroom presented a romanticized, idealistic vision of what a newsroom should be -- staffed with bright folks, who have bosses that trust them, editors with sound news judgement, and an anchor, who when he does lose his shit [pardon my french], holds forth on what doesn't make this nation great.

Life in a newsroom, unfortunately, is not like a Sorkin show.

In Pakistan, when anchors do lose their shit, or decide to speak their mind off-camera, they either spout anti-Ahmadi sentiments, or admit that a question has been planted, or hold forth on what wonders the film Mirza Ghalib had. That said, the behaviour of anchors is not a reflection on some of the journalists that work at those channels -- I have been in a newsroom when an anchor's behaviour made us groan in despair, but a job is a job is a job. Newsrooms, in broadcast media, are understaffed, underpaid, and journalists are expected to work a minimum of 10 hour back-breaking shifts a day, at salaries that make one wonder if bonded labourers might have it better off. This isn't a defense of how some journalists behave, but I have heard countless tales in the past year of how journalists have taken massive paycuts, just to get a job [if they're lucky], that they can be laid off from at any point.

The Newsroom, more than anything, just made me sad. Newsrooms change you, and in most cases, not for the better. And in the process, you may lose not just empathy, but also the passion for telling a story well. And I really doubt if a Sorkin show can bring that back.


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