Skip to content

Flannagan: Network 1976- An Inside Look at Modern Contemporary Network News Media

April 4, 2014

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Anyone who’s interested in modern network news should watch the movie Network from 1976. It’s almost forty years old now and except for the modern technology, the new players and the new stories they’d be hard pressed to see any differences between the two eras. Shows in both address what people will watch and assume that hard news is boring and that most people get the news in which they are interested from their smart phones (today, anyway). They work long days, come home and are only interested in what some celebrity did at some party, what they wore or some other celebrity gossip.

Network is about a struggling TV network called United Broadcasting System (UBS) and its struggling news division, UBS News. Their lead news anchor, Howard Beale (the great Peter Finch) has a nervous breakdown live on his nightly newscast, perhaps because of his awful ratings (the movie does not make that clear). He starts swearing on national network TV back when cable TV was just getting going and not yet a major medium.

The news executives and other network executives conclude that Beale has to be taken off the air completely but give him one last newscast to say goodbye to his audience (the two people remaining outside of UBS) because of his long distinguished career in journalism and with UBS News. Beale takes this opportunity to continue his rant and tell his audience that the whole world is bullshit and that people should be mad as hell and not stand for it anymore.

Well, to get Network you have to first understand the times. This movie takes place in, I believe 1975, even though it came out in 1976. America was going through a rough recession combined with high unemployment, high inflation, high interest rates, high costs of living and everything else that makes life expensive. Beale, here, is presenting this to his audience and saying that they shouldn’t stand for it anymore.

Fay Dunaway’s character is a program executive at UBS who sees a big opening for herself and a way to profit from Beale and the malaise that the country is suffering. She gives him his own new show, a nightly rant about everything that sucks in the world. The show is a hit, at least at first, This is one of the first instances of network news becoming a money-making business first and public service second.

Network foretold CNN, MSNBC, FNC and all the so-called reality TV networks 30-35 years before their time. I’m not aware of a movie before or since that was so prescient. With its great writing, cast, and humor it is one of the best movies of all time and one of my personal favorites.

Flannagan: Network 1976 Trailer


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Free Markets and Social Justice

American / Unionist

Evenhanded insight on political, cultural and scientific affairs

Action Plus

Sexy People in Action

Voluntary Virtues Network

An online show network dedicated towards advancing the message of Liberty!

The Liberty Underground

Fighting for the rights of the individual and refuting the claims of the collective

The Daily Review Plus

The Lighter Side of Life

Thoughts on Liberty

an online magazine by libertarian women


We are not affiliated with or supported by Americans for FairTaxation (AFFT) -

The Liberty Beacon

Bringing Alternative Media Sources Together™

The New Democrat Plus

Current Affairs, News, Politics, Philosophy, History, Sports, Satire, Entertainment and Everyday Life From a Liberal-Democratic Perspective

Cpl Kerkman Reference Guide

A collection of philosophical writings and awesome poems written with my Marines in Mind.

Christopher Cantwell

Radical Agenda

SocialHumanRace.WordPress.Com/TheSocialCentre.WordPress.Com site!

Peer 2 Peace

Because Sharing Is Caring


A great site

A11 Football League

A11 Football League 2014

Britt's Bird Watch

Inside the Baltimore Orioles clubhouse with beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli.

At the Races

Roll Call's Politics Blog

Joe Jarvis

Freedom, Philosophy, and the Future.


ProHockeyTalk on

FRS FreeState Now Plus

Current Affairs, News, Politics, History, Satire, Sports, Entertainment, Life From a Liberal Democratic Perspective

FRS Real Life Journal Plus

Life, Sports, Entertainment, Satire and TV History

Beck's Blog

Tracking the Tigers with beat writer Jason Beck.


ProFootballTalk on Blogs Central

Welcome to the community blog! See other people's designs, post comments & questions, get tips and see if you made the Latest Leaders at the big-league home for baseball bloggers!

Curly W Live

The official blog of the Washington Nationals. Contact us at

Washington Redskins News and Analysis


Baseball. Baseball. And then a bit more baseball.

The NFL Fieldhouse

All about the NFL . . . and sometimes some other stuff too

Table For Two UMBC (TFT-UMBC)<-Serch this!

Hunger, Obesity, School lunch

Conservative Libertarian Outpost


The Patriot Perspective

Helping to Conserve American Libertarian Values and Reestablish Common Sense in Government Since March 2009

District Sports

The freshest Redskins and Nationals gear around.

The Liberty Beacon

Bringing Alternative Media Sources Together™

concerned american

Just another site

FRS Daily Post Plus

Life, Sports, Entertainment, Satire and TV History

FRS Daily Times Plus

Current Affairs, News, Politics, Satire, History, Life, Sports and Entertainment From a Liberal-Democratic Perspective

FRS Daily Press Plus

Life, Sports, Entertainment, Satire, TV History

FRS Daily Journal Plus

Life, Sports, Entertainment, Satire and History

FRS FreeStates Plus

Current Affairs, News, Politics, Satire, Sports, Entertainment and Life From a LiberalDemocratic Perspective

FreeState Plus WordPress Blog

Current Affairs, News, Politics, Satire, Sports and Entertainment From a Liberal Democratic Perspective

FRS FreeState Plus

Current Affairs, News, Politics, History, Satire, Sports and Entertainment From a Liberal-Democratic Perspective

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: