Monday, June 18, 2007

If they could see it now

I'm really not sleepy so I turned on the TV. Broadcast News is on and I have to watch. It's one of those movies I love, but when I think about my favorite movies, I never seem to remember it. Yet when it's on, I'm glued to it.

As I'm watching the first few minutes something strikes me. This movie was made in 1987. What would these characters think about the world of news and politics today, 20 years later?

We're introduced to Aaron as he is making fun of an Arnold Schwarzenegger television interview about Schwarzenegger's latest movie. I wonder what Aaron would think of Gov. Schwarzenegger? Then there's Jane, who speaks out at a conference against the softening of the news. Nobody listens. The audience claps when she shows how a lead story on all three networks was of a domino stacking competition, missing the point that the networks neglected to cover a major policy change in nuclear policy. No one seemed to care that news was turning into fluff.

This was 20 years ago, before the rise of cable news, way before the Internet. The 24/7 news cycle wasn't even a concept. In many ways this movie prophesied what has become of our news. I guarantee Jane would throw a hissy fit about all the coverage of Paris Hilton's jail time or the death of Anna Nicole.

I think it was easy for this movie to predict what was going to happen to news. Things were starting to become more evident. The year this movie was made, I still wanted to be a foreign correspondent for Newsweek in Central America. That's where the action was. Journalism was my calling. Yet by the time I graduated in 1988, I didn't want that any more. I could tell that journalism was going tabloid and that wasn't me. I went to college not knowing what I wanted to be, but still registered as a journalism major because that was what was on my application and the advising line for that major was short (true story). Only later did I learn what PR was, how it had a strong journalism component, and how PR was all about telling the positive story. That's when I decided what I wanted to be.

Funny thing is, Broadcast News had no influence on my decision. I never saw the movie until I was well into my career. Yet every time I watch it, there is something that resonates with me. There is a definite warning the movie is trying to give and yet we're not paying heed. I wonder what Jane and Aaron would say to that?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

GOOD OBSERVATIONS! Love this blog! Keep it up, if you can!!!

Some would argue that many network and even some cable network news agencies are a form of PR, so maybe you didn't miss your calling after all!

Auntie M.