Sonya Sorich: Discussing The Newsroom, from the newsroom

June 26, 2012 

It's funny until it's true.

So goes my complex relationship with pop culture's depictions of my profession. The strange swirl of emotions surfaced Sunday night, when HBO premiered "The Newsroom," a drama series about the cable news world.

I monitored Twitter during the first episode. One of my favorite tweets came from a CNN journalist in Denver: "My prediction is that the only people who will think #Newsroom is good will be people who have never worked in one."

Newspapers and TV news are different universes, but I got it.

Journalism has surfaced in pop culture on a variety of occasions, ranging from the 1994 film "The Paper" starring Michael Keaton to the newsroom on "Murphy Brown."

Later, there was pop culture heroine Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City." We rarely saw her in an office environment, but she somehow wrote a successful column, earned a decent salary, attracted lots of readers and maintained a full social calendar amid deadlines. After I told people I wanted to write for a newspaper, the response was common: "Oh, just like Carrie Bradshaw!"

Well, not really.

When "ER" was in its prime, I knew someone in the medical community who frequently complained that the TV series didn't mirror real life. Back then, I didn't have a chosen profession that showed up in fictional settings.

But now, I've watched new journalists enter the office with wide eyes, shocked that chaotic moments of breaking news frenzy are often the exception, rather than the rule.

I didn't watch "The Newsroom." Even after nearly a decade in the business, I don't make enough money to comfortably afford cable.

I'm not alone. A day after the premiere, a TV journalist tweeted, "I would LOVE to watch the new show the #newsroom but because I work in a newsroom I can't afford @HBO #irony." For what it's worth, HBO has put the episode on its YouTube channel.

A skimpy salary is among the war badges journalists acquire in exchange for meeting deadlines and covering three-hour public forums.

Same goes for the barrage of study results suggesting your profession is dying and you work with some of the most miserable, stressed-out people in the business world.

Enter outsiders' questions about why you haven't considered a career switch. The answer, of course, must be conveyed with something deeper than good acting.

It's true. But also kind of funny.

Sonya Sorich can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.

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