I finally had the opportunity to watch the premiere episode of “Newsroom” on HBO. The latest Aaron Sorkin tele-drama about a cable news network and the goings-on with the people who work there. It was a thought-provoking start and forced me to re-examine the role of the fourth estate (i.e. the media) in our society today. Sorkin is a hopeless idealist, which is okay, by the way, and he paints a picture with words his actors use, to emphasize their own sense of flawed nobility of the role he/she plays in our lives.
News has changed, but not progressed, from fact-based to opinion-based and in the premiere episode, the desire is to return to the past with the powerful and simple phrase of “We Just Decided To Do It.” Now living in the past is one thing, but returning to the past is quite another. You work with people who wax nostalgically about the glamorous past of how things used to be as though problems today are more significant than previously. Baby Boomers, of which I am one, tend to do this quite a bit as they reminisce and unfortunately, it can hold back the natural order of things.
Peer into your own crystal ball and forecast your own future – personal and professional. What do you see? An extrapolation of current trends or something quite different? Now look at your workplace – what’s the future look like? More of the same is not very compelling, is it? Now is the optimum time to be bold and remember those useful elements of the past that may have been discarded and seek to refresh them in today’s world. Public service is a noble profession and when you forget that, get out.
I encourage you to stay high-minded and remember you’re having a positive impact everyday on people’s lives, and most likely, the community you serve. You work in the “meaning” business and while Newsroom may turn out to be a fabulous show, which I’m sure I’ll watch, the media’s role is to provide facts and offer commentary about the events occurring in our world; when you serve in government you have the opportunity to make the news, not report on it. It’s both powerful and fragile, always remember that as we continue our journey to “get better all the time.”