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Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom and the Question of Liberal Imagination in Contemporary Quality Television

Michele Fadda and Guglielmo Pescatore, University of Bologna

Since his first series on Nbc and Abc channels, such as The West Wing and Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin’ tv dramas have always promoted the circulation of liberal ideas within the horizon of mass media entertainment, by valorizing the medium of television as a powerful tool for engaging social and political issues. Yet, the uneven audience reception and the mixed critical response of his recent Hbo show on journalism The Newsroom invites us to question with more attention the actual acceptance of American liberal imagination within contemporary popular culture. By focusing on the first two seasons of the show, this paper will try to investigate how a certain political and intellectual vein could nurture the very notion of “quality” in the context of cultural and media convergence, a scenery in which economic models, policies and market trends profoundly affect not only tv programs scheduling or the mode of production, but also the types of content and aesthetic form.