New BBC One drama Press about two rival fictional newspapers was trending on Twitter last night as journalists reacted to the first episode of the primetime mini-series.
The hour-long opening episode drew such interest the hashtag #Press was trending on Twitter last night, with more than 3,600 tweets having been sent by 11.30pm.
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Written by Doctor Foster creator Mike Bartlett, the show delves into the lives of journalists working at daily tabloid The Post and rival The Herald, the former an apparent amalgam of the Sun and Mirror and the latter a clear proxy for the Guardian.
In the first episode we follow Ed Washburn (Paapa Essiedu) a new reporter at the Post as he carries out his first death knock. Meanwhile at the Herald deputy news editor Holly Evans (Charlotte Riley) is trying to get to the bottom of a hit-and-run death.
But the show received mixed reviews on Twitter, with some pointing out its shortcomings in portraying the reality of being a journalist, while others saying they enjoyed it and would continue watching.
Even Piers Morgan got involved, responding to scepticism over the idea that a reporter would go undercover at another newspaper and giving a corrected version of real-life events.
Fake news. It was for the News of the World. I know because it was me who sent her to do it. https://t.co/0nnfIjdPqq
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 6, 2018
After seeing other journalists suggest Post editor Duncan Allen (Ben Chaplin – pictured) was inspired by him, Morgan later added:
My mother is very concerned that the editor in Press might be in any way based on me. I’ve reassured her that I was far worse.. pic.twitter.com/u57HZorJ9R
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 7, 2018
Many reacted to young reporter Ed Washburn’s death knock experience, some telling their own traumatic stories.
My first week in journalism I had to go and knock on someone’s door and I got roughed up, shall we say. I rang in and was told “give it 15 minutes and knock again” #Press
— Jane Merrick (@janemerrick23) September 6, 2018
1. A reporter knocking on a bereaved family’s door a second time, once the door is slammed shut once. Drama writers (and some editors) might like to think this happens, but it almost always doesn’t.
— Tom Edwards (@tomedwardsbbchw) September 6, 2018
The scene inside the house with the dead footballer’s parents – is disgraceful.
— Andrew Musgrove (@ADMusgrove) September 6, 2018
I rememeber my first death knock – I was TERRIFIED! 😬 The RELIEF when no one answered the door 🙈 But then I imagined what my editor’s reaction would be 😫… so I left a note and one hour and a phone call interview later I had the next day’s front page 😅🗞📰 #Press
— Nicholas Bieber (@NickBieberHP) September 6, 2018
My one and only death knock as a young reporter was heartbreaking: a single mother whose three grown-up children worked next to each other on a factory production line. All died in an explosion. #Press
— Brian Groom (@GroomB) September 6, 2018
One aspect of the programme that was excoriated by journalists was the opening to the hit-and-run scoop by deputy news editor Evans.
Could that intro get any worse. “THE HUNT is on for a killer cop who mowed down a teacher and left her to die in the road.
“CCTV shows a police car smashing into Andrea Reed, 34, on her way home – then speeding off as she lay on the tarmac… MF” https://t.co/3ewbLBBrWT
— fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) September 6, 2018
— Jack Hardy (@JackHardy9) September 6, 2018
— Emily Townsend (@emilyltownsend) September 7, 2018
— JustaScribbler (@JustaScribbler) September 7, 2018
— Michael O’Toole 🇮🇪🇪🇺 (@mickthehack) September 6, 2018
— Michael Upton (@MUTiser2) September 6, 2018
But some praised the show…
Really enjoyed the first episode of #Press. For some reason I was expecting to hate it, but it’s actually not bad.
— Captain Haggerty (@AngelaHaggerty) September 6, 2018
So, what did we think of #Press on @BBCOne tonight? Me? An enjoyable yarn so far. Intrigued to see all computer systems appear to be working, though. And quaint to see a news editor taking a lunch break…
— John Nurden (@JohnNurden) September 6, 2018
…while others were very critical of its depiction of the trade…
— Gavan Becton (@GavBecton) September 6, 2018
Didn’t enjoy #Press. I feel that some of the big issues have been dealt with far better in other dramas – such as The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies. And in terms of entertainment, State of Play 15 years ago was far, far superior.
— David Irwin (@DIrwin_Reporter) September 7, 2018
— Scott Edwards (@Scott_Edwards92) September 7, 2018
My problem with #Press last night wasn’t down how realistic or unrealistic it was, just that it wasn’t very good.
— Ben Green (@BenjiJGreen) September 7, 2018
There’s sth weird about this newsroom – where are all the white men? #Press
— jane martinson (@janemartinson) September 6, 2018
Why would you email the police *commissioner* for comment on a story about their force? Has austerity forced the press office to close? #press
— Jack Sommers (@jack_sommers) September 6, 2018
That the rookie reporter would be in conference let alone pipe up to challenge the editor is just one of many ridiculous inaccuracies that have irrationally annoyed me.
Also, where is the constant swearing? #Press
— Fred Nathan (@FreddieNathan) September 6, 2018
Reporter, a junior one at that, writing his own headline?!
Good one! #Press
— Jordan Bhatt (@Jordan_Bhatt) September 6, 2018
Picture: Colin Hutton/BBC