I'm always up for a TV show about newspapers, even though most of them don't get it exactly right. (For example, the cubicle walls were way too high in the Stamford Gazette newsroom on "Gilmore Girls").
So I'll stick with "The Paper" (9:30 p.m. Mondays on MTV) for a while even though this reality show about a high school newspaper is much more about high school than newspapers. In the first episode, we're told it takes place at Cypress Bay High School, the largest school in the country, with a newspaper staff of 50.
But size doesn't equate to quality or professionalism. The show doesn't delve much into the paper's content, but what we see of The Circuit looks shoddy (either too gray or too busy), like all of our high school papers did.
We meet various reporters and editors as they enter their senior year, including bossy editor-in-chief Amanda, who was formerly bossy copy editor Amanda. Does this paper have no photographers, graphic designers or Web editors? Not as far as MTV is concerned.
Watching shots of a sports reporter transcribing quotes with a pad and pen made me briefly wonder if this show was shot in the 1970s (even in Brainerd, we had digital recorders by 2006), except that the kids wear modern fashions and "The Paper" has that dramatic editing that reality TV fans know well.
So while Mrs. Weiss is steering her young scribes wrong by focusing on old-fashioned writing and reporting instead of appealing design that's easy to navigate, "The Paper" still works as cliched reality fare.
"Journalists are the most important people in the world," Amanda wrongly claims. This show demonstrates that we're just as ridiculous as everybody else.
- By John Hansen,