A Journalism Series Should Become the Next Big Procedural

Friday, March 13, 2020
I went down a YouTube wormhole recently and ended up finding full episodes of Lou Grant, the Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff about Lou Grant becoming city editor of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune. I love a good procedural and it's been a while since journalism was the focus of one.

A show about journalism in today's cultural climate would be intriguing. To see the struggle of subscriptions and clicks, the pieces that matter versus the ones you know will gain traction to make the publication money.

The format could be a story of the week, with the daily struggles of working in media being woven in with other reporters and staff dealing with other pieces or workplace issues. A long-wind investigation would make for a great multi-episode arc, not a full season arc because that could stretch the story too thin, and even though some pieces take more than a season of television to produce, we can let the fantasy world of television take over there. Or you could revisit stories in later episodes or seasons, and do it that way. A big story that ends up having major consequences for the reporter and the paper would be a great way to end a season and want us to see what happens next.

A great thing about a newspaper is the variety of stories there are that could be covered; pretty much anything. Corruption, coverups and other scandals in government, the police, colleges; breaking news like natural disasters or mass shootings; uncovering sexual misconduct; stories relating to health care and hospitals; the new scammer on the scene; human interest stories; celebrity profiles; whatever fluff piece corporate wants to run to get more ad revenue.

With the political stuff, like local, state, national elections, there can be an illustration of the struggle to assert the truth when the leader of the free world lies, and his administration, supporters, and whole party, lines up behind him. Don't make it like a parody of the Cheeto-in-charge, have it be a bit of a more competent person to make it a more interesting drama instead of a reflection of our waking nightmare.

Of course office politics will happen, and that could be another mini-arc, especially one that could wrap up a season as well. Especially as editorial decisions are questioned and the different people and organizations that are starting to buy newspapers could make for some great conflict of interest stories. You can get into the staff's relationships with one another and how their work affects those relationships, competitions for stories, promotions, and jobs when the budget cut storyline inevitably happens. There is also potential to highlight how this job affects the home life of some of the staff and the toll and repercussions, such as death threats, can take on their families.

I think with the news media, and how it operates, being paid more attention and under more scrutiny, a show about the people who own it, the editor-in-chief, reporters, copywriters, and everyone else could do with a spotlight on our televisions.

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