From Aaron Sorkin to Robert Redford: A Look at Hollywood Newsrooms

Last night, a new, longer trailer for the forthcoming HBO series The Newsroom, helmed by pulse-quickener Aaron Sorkin, premiered. It showed off what looks like a robust role for Emily Mortimer, some old-people-versus-young-people tension and a very, very strange idea of what a newsroom is like.

As people who have worked (and sometimes slept) in newsrooms for years now, we’re always interested to see how Hollywood portrays our coffee-scented cubicle wastelands. Nothing we’ve seen every quite hits the nail on the head, but many have made a fine effort. Here are some favorites.

While a newsroom this crowded with employees is something rarely seen today, and typewriters are only used for twee decoration, the trailer for All the President’s Men, a movie that asks us to believe there are newspaper reporters as handsome as Robert Redford, paints a picture of an exciting, cloak-and-dagger life that never involves copyediting fashion credits


Thanks to 1976’s Network, the idea that TV news is fast moving and supremely dramatic was lodged into the collective unconscious. And while dwindling budgets have probably made some people’s lives more exciting by saddling them with extra responsibilities, it’s unlikely that a day at CNN will ever provide the kind of excitement that fictional UBS did.

Murphy Brown’s assistants were always a bit wacky, perhaps a relic of a time when newsrooms could afford to have characters around for the sake of entertainment. These days, any assistant who can’t carry three lattes while making dinner reservations at a yet-to-open restaurant and simultaneously reading her boss’ mind would never even make it past HR.

Then there’s this scene from The Wire. It follows the totally unlikely storyline of… Oh, wait. This is in fact the everyday occurance of an understaffed paper’s editor trying to explain to his remaining employees the forthcoming budget cuts. Welcome to the real world, kids.