Lessons Learned from Lou Grant

“Lou Grant” was a TV drama that ran for five seasons from 1977-1982.  The show focuses on the job of Lou Grant, the city editor for The Los Angeles Tribune.  Despite being outdated, “Lou Grant” shows an accurate description of how an actual news room runs for a city paper.  Between the relationships with members of the paper and the news itself, the series does an excellent job of showing just how crazy working for a newspaper can be.  The series also shows just how difficult it is to put your friendships aside when reporting and not showing an bias towards one side or the other.  Although it does take place more than 30 years ago, many of the scenes in the show could be very similar to those in today’s journalism world.

Season 1, Episode 1: Cophouse

The first episode of the show shows the difficulty of reporting while remaining impartial to both parties.  There was a scandal between some off duty police officers and under-aged women that happened at a volunteer event.  George Driscoll is a reporter for the paper that has worked with the Los Angeles Police Department for many years now and has gotten to know the officers on a personal level.  Although Driscoll knows information about the story, he refuses to report it to the paper in fear it will ruin his friendship with the officers in the LAPD.  After gathering information from other sources, Grant presents the story to the front page of the paper however other editors and the owner of the paper refuse to print the story in fear it would hurt the image of the paper.  Eventually Driscoll writes the story about the scandal with the information he knows and the story is printed on the front page.  This episode shows that even if you do make friendships, you cannot let that show in your writing as you must be neutral.

Season 1, Episode 2:

This episode focuses primarily on the incident that takes place between reporter Joe Rossi and a gunman holding him hostage.  After his brother was killed, the gunman immediately turned on The Los Angeles Tribune because he felt as if the paper didn’t print the actually story of what happened.  This is a dilemma over speed vs. accuracy.  In the newspaper industry every papers goal is to be the first to report an incident.  However, if they print their story without proper evidence of the situation then the story is no good.  Also at the end of the show, another lesson is learned that instead of glorifying terrorism and putting it on the front page, it is important to protect the image of the paper.  The owner wanted to make sure they wrote an apology letter to the victim instead of showing the actual story on the front page.  

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