Earlier this year, in the summer, HBO unveiled its newest hour-long drama, The Newsroom. Now, I am a little biased because the creator of this show, Aaron Sorkin, also created my favorite television show of all time, The West Wing. That being said, the show chronicles a CNN Nightly News type of program that has been in decline in both ratings and quality. One of the things the new management tries to instill in its staff is a doctrine to follow when reporting a story. The best one of those rules is “Is this the best possible form of the argument?”
They even go on to ask “is there even an argument?” That is to say, that when news is reported, if it comes from a place of common sense or general agreement, it isn’t news, or at least not newsworthy enough for their organization. But the best possible form of the argument comes from a place of both fairness and completeness.
Online journalism, especially that of movie criticism and blogging, is horrible at finding a balance incorporating these ideas.
I’ll give you an example.
A friend of mine who runs a comic book website (check it out here) has this argument, which I have since adopted and think rings pretty true. You’ll often see Top 10 lists for all sorts of things around the internet. But a common preface reads something like this:
“now I’m not saying these are the BEST films of all time, but they are my FAVORITE films of all time”
Who the hell are we, or you, or anyone to purport to know what the best of anything is? Your FAVORITE is the best because it’s all you know. Sure, Citizen Kane tops more lists than anything else — so maybe it is the most loved, most lauded film of all time — but if you think Weekend At Bernie’s is your favorite movie — in that, it captures everything you love the most about film and the way it’s done — then it is the best, in your opinion. Nobody can know what the best is — our favorites are all we have.
More on this soon…