A new TV series that debuted this week about American journalism has been getting middling reviews. Called Tabloid Wars, it’s about the big battle between the New York Daily News and the New York Post which has been going on for years and which, if circulation is the judge, The Post is slowly winning. On the eve of the series debut was it revealed that the producers originally wanted to shoot the series at The Post but were shooed away with the comment “we are in the business of producing newspapers not television shows” – a decision that reportedly disturbed some of the more telegenic members of the Post’s staff.
But others said it was enthralling .One major criticism about the series – scheduled to run six weeks – is that it is very male oriented. In the first instalment there was only one woman – the journalist wife of Daily News gossip columnist George Rush – and no black or minority journalists.
Mostly it dealt with the efforts to break the story about Robert DeNiro’s wife being robbed of her jewellery by her housekeeper and a possible racially-motivated slaying in a New York suburb.
The series, in the words of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, portrays Michael Cooke, the Daily News editor at the time of the original filming last year (he has since moved on to other things) as a “salty earthy British import” He certainly minces no words when he describes the rivalry between his paper and The Post as a “form of mortal combat” “We put our foot on their throat every day and press down until their eyes bulge and leak blood, but still they don’t die. You just have to keep at it until they doâ€¦” The current editor of The News, Brit Martin Dunn, has so far been rarely seen.
What the series doesn’t do is glamorize daily big city journalism. It does emphasis how much reporters spend these days at their computers and on their cell phones, and still occasionally pounding the street and knocking on doors.
Only Women’s Wear Daily, as might be expected, commented that the reporters could have done with better wardrobes, a little real make up and their hair styledâ€¦ Another critic, in the NY Times, although acceding that the series appears to be “fair and accurate” commented on the “gruff exteriors and thick New York and Fleet Street accents” Which might prompt the question: What’s a Fleet Street accent?
Even in its coverage of the new series The NY Post, which these days always refers to its rival as “The Daily Snooze”, couldn’t resist a final dig. Instead of a regular listing in its TV guide, The Post listed Tabloid Wars as “paid programming”.