Last night HBO aired the series finale of The Newsroom. The show aired for three seasons, and each one packed a punch. The fast-paced dialogue, a trademark of any Aaron Sorkin show, was always well crafted. And, speaking for myself, it stuck with the viewer and left them thinking about the latest episode long after the credits. Last night’s episode was no different. Here are six career lessons you can find in The Newsroom series finale.

(SPOILER: The remainder of this post discusses the series of The Newsroom, including its final episode. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve been warned.)

The Newsroom Season 3 promotional poster

1. Question The Status Quo.

The finale starts where it all began – with the now-famous scene from the series premiere where Will questions whether or not the United States of America is the best country in the world. (If you haven’t seen it, watch it here:

Never merely accept something without thought. There can always be a different, or better, way of doing things. When you approach a task, at work or in life, don’t just settle for “what we’ve always done.” What may have been great once may be outdated now.

2. Be Passionate.

Neal returns from South America to discover that the ACN website and the integrity of the network’s web communications that he had worked so hard to build for three years had been completely undermined in his absence. He gives an impassioned speech, noting how he fought to build a reputable web-based news portal even when his colleagues laughed in his face. He knew what he wanted the site to be, and he worked to make it happen.

You have to have passion in your work. You need to have something to believe in, something to work toward, something to be proud of, a cause to fight for. This could be directly related to your job, or it could be a side project that you do for yourself.

3. Build Your Network

The majority of the episode revolves around Charlie Skinner, as the characters reflect on their interactions with Charlie over the last three years while at his funeral. Charlie brought all these characters together and impacted their lives in more ways than one. He got Mackenzie to work for ACN, reuniting her with Will and leading to their eventual marriage and family life. This action also brought Jim to ACN, which led to his relationship with Maggie. This freed Don up to connect with Sloan. Charlie’s influence brought these characters together, and they also helped mold their futures, playing a role in everything from future careers to future children.

You never know who in your life now will impact your life in major ways three (or more) years from now. Take care to manage your professional and personal network so that you can benefit from your connections and so that you can help others.

4. Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

In a flashback, we see a poignant discussion between Will and Charlie. Will reveals that, while he would like to be a father, he’s afraid of both his past and his future. He’s afraid that his past relationship with his abusive father will make him a bad father. He’s also afraid that his father’s alcoholism, which some say is hereditary, will creep up in his own future and again, make him a bad father. But in the end, Charlie convinces Will that he can’t not have children because of his fear of the unknown.

You can’t control everything. And you can’t let everything control you. Don’t let past mistakes or experiences dictate what you do today, tomorrow or three years from now. This is true at work and in life.

5. Fight For Your Dreams.

In the series finale, Maggie is offered an interview for her dream job – a field producer assignment in Washington, D.C., in line to cover the White House. Her new relationship with Jim complicates things, as he must remain in New York. While Jim wants Maggie to turn down the interview and stay in New York, she sticks to her guns and takes the interview while they agree to work at a long-distance relationship.

Don’t give up on your dreams. You may have to work to get what you want, but if you throw in the towel early on you’ll never know if you could have succeeded.

6. The Show Must Go On.

The ending of the series is fairly anti-climatic. Mac, Don, Will and Jim work with the others to produce another episode of News Night. The closing scene shows them at work as the sound fades out.

In spite of all the action in the episode and in their lives – both good and bad – the show must go on. No one is indispensable. Sometimes you just have to put aside your feelings and get the job done.


Creative Commons The Newsroom” by Brennen Schmidt licensed under CC BY 2.0