Ep 313: The Newsroom

This week we take a special look at the new Aaron Sorkin show, The Newsroom. Passions fly and loyalty is laid on the line. We lined up some experts from both sides of the Sorkin fence to investigate exactly what it is that makes this show so loved and hated.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/media.boxcutters.net/BCep313b.mp3|titles=Episode 313|artists=Boxcutters]


(also, I know the levels are all over the place but I ran out of editing time. Sorry – ed.)


2pm 2 August: Updated to fix some audio and include a bit more clarity. Enjoy.


  1. sorry

    I tried. I really did.

    …but I couldn’t get through but ten minutes of this before I was ready to yell at you guys.

    the criticisms just seemed so petty – and contradictory – and for a bunch of experts “dissecting” this show, you sure did seem to do a lot of missing the point…

    maybe next time.

  2. Andrew Boxcutter says:

    Wow. Congrats on the awesome production job, this episode rocks. Loved the roundtable discussion, it worked really well. Josh was right, The Newsroom brings out passion in people and I heard that on this episode. I’m off to buy a plane ticket, can’t wait to see this for myself.

  3. Paul Boxcutter says:

    Conrad, ok, fine, could you fill us in on what they missed?

  4. Ben Harris-Roxas says:

    Not constructive Conrad. I enjoyed the range of perspectives in the episode and nice job editing the episode.

  5. Tom Hawkins says:

    Ah the irony. You assert that Sorkin is a bad writer making bad television when you can’t even master a fucking podcast correctly. I agree with Conrad.

  6. Didn’t notice any problems with the mastering and thought the mix was very adroitly assembled. As alluded to in a pre-release tweet, given Audiolab time and resources I am sure you would have come up with something even more wonderful but, without any allowances being made, this episode was beyond impressive. A definite favourite, well done.

  7. Unfortunately, Glenn Peters came across as particularly facile and ill-informed in this one, and I’m not sure whether it’s just the editing that did that or whether he is just that facile and ill-informed generally (no, he’s not my favourite boxcutter, how could you guess).

    Having him claim “my journalist friends tell me nobody rushes to put out news of a death to television” right next to James Taglia (an actual journalist) saying “everybody rushes to do it” makes him look like an idiot, but then again, actual experience of the news also makes Glenn Peters look like an idiot anyway. We’ve seen too many times shoddy and poor journalism happen to believe journalists when they say “this doesn’t happen” when it manefestly does.

    As for his claim that a good advertising slogan (like “the fish John West rejects”) is better than a good speech… that is bogus nonsense as well. Advertising is delightful for thirty seconds of TV copy. But it’s not television, and the moment we think they’re the same thing, that’s the moment we’re looking at a big barrell of bullshit.

    I do note that when he claimed “nobody can quote an Aaron Sorkin TV speech”, he deliberately used the word “TV” in there. Because, of course, “You can’t handle the truth”, ” If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”, and “I am God!” are three of the better turns of phrase in recent cinematic history, and they’re all Sorkin.

    Dismissing Sorkin as flinging around big words is just plain stupid. A line like “You know, if you don’t want to run again, I respect that. But if you don’t run ’cause you think it’s gonna be too hard or you think you’re gonna lose – well, God, Jed, I don’t even want to know you.” has no big words whatsoever. The longest word is two syllables. But it’s writing with impact and with strength.

    I hope that Boxcutters continues to have conversation with strength and impact that takes TV seriously. I’d also like Glenn Peters either to get better or go away. Because currently he is not impressing me at all.

  8. “Advertising is delightful for thirty seconds of TV copy. But it’s not television.”

    Apart from being a manifestly stupid statement, this is also completely false at face value. You could more strongly argue the converse as, without ad revenue, TV networks have no money to produce content or buy syndicated content from other networks. Advertising is pretty much the *defining* feature of television, which was always just an ‘audience/market delivery system’ – the content was/is secondary.

    • Okay, let’s play the stupid game back. at you.

      Reuben, You have the arguement exactly backwards. Commercial TV does not exist to sell advertising to audiences. It exists to sell audiences to advertisers. And in the absence of that model (which does not apply to, say, the ABC, or indeed, to HBO, which just sells its programming to the audience instead), advertising is an appendage that doesn’t need to exist.

      Advertising copyrighters love to pretend otherwise, it makes them feel important, but the fact is they’re an addition to the process, not the fundamental reason for it.

      The very nature of the fact that TV needs actual programming to sell the advertising to people means that advertising, by itself, can’t be attractive enough to draw people to the telly. Advertising is not programming, despite the wails of the advertarded.

      • Dan Barrett says:

        No, let’s get even clearer “Fred”. Commercial TV exists to sell airtime to advertisers/media buyers. The audience is just the carrot at the end of the stick.

  9. Glenn Peters says:

    Here’s an interesting article about Hal David “The King of Short Words”. http://bit.ly/UmmQ11

    For the record (and as if anyone really cares), i enjoyed one or two of the later Newsroom episodes.

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