I just about fell off my couch, I was screaming so loud at the TV. I’m usually not vocal when I watch TV shows but the premise being thrown out willy nilly was so ridiculous I couldn’t contain myself.
On the series Daredevil, a Netflix Marvel series, a newspaper editor tells his reporter, a character who later becomes central to the story, that crime stories don’t sell any more, and that he should do a story on the possibility of a new metro line.
You’ve got to be kidding me. Listen, as someone who made a living covering crime, I can tell you that maybe no more ridiculous an assertion has ever been made in the history of journalism being portrayed on TV. Of all the things that generate views, clicks and internet commentary, crime and sports are the top two. While I saw other beats being condensed all around me, my crime beat remained untouched.
It used to be an assumption. People would always talk about crime stories, so it was assumed that people were reading them. The old adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” is a cliche for a reason. Today, that no longer is an assumption. Every newspaper has its hands on software that provides metrics about what is being read, how much and for how long. I can tell you nothing gets clicks quite like crime. (Other than cute animals – nothing gets clicks like cute animals.)
To put a real point on it, when I worked at a daily newspaper, I put together a feature called the crime gallery, a listing of mug shots from the week. It was the second most clicked on page on the entire website, second only to the MAIN PAGE. Take the landing page out of the equation, and no other page even got close to the clicks that it did.
So if you’ve seen that in real life, such as I have, you know how utterly ridiculous the idea is that an editor would tell a reporter to cover a hypothetical subway line rather than a crime story. That reveals a basic lack of research, because anyone who has spent a week in a newsroom would know that sentence would never be uttered. (In fact, I’m pretty sure this basic fact is generally known by the average Joe.)
The lack of research extends to the law firm of Murdock and Nelson. They constantly talk about being broke (forgetting that they accepted a big retainer fee early in season one they said would keep them afloat for awhile).
Here’s the thing. New defense attorneys don’t typically wait for cases to walk through their door, especially the indigent clients who would be appointed a public attorney. Besides a public defenders office, many clients are doled out to qualified defense attorneys. Most people starting a practice will rely on those cases for much of their work until they’ve built enough of a reputation to start drawing clients who pay privately. The clients paying Murdoch and Nelson in pies and cookies wouldn’t ever come across them in the first place.
There’s also the sticky fact that many of the clients they represent are not criminal cases, even though that’s the type of cases they are qualified to represent. It would be rare for a defense attorney to represent someone in a landlord case, such as Mrs. Garcia. That’s a different type of law than a criminal defense attorney would have specialized in. Though lawyers get something of a general law education in addition to their specialty, most will shy away from law they haven’t specifically studied. (I once had a defense attorney ask my advice on libel law, for example, because it was well outside his area of expertise. He wouldn’t have advised a client on this because it wasn’t the area of law he specialized in.)
Also, I’m pretty sure their secretary, Karen, working for free is a labor law violation.
Now all that being said, I like Daredevil – I like the spirit of the story and think the characters are great. It’s just hard to watch two professions I’ve had a lot of interaction with represented so inaccurately. There’s a difference between the suspension of disbelief and lack of basic research for the topics you’re covering. The portrayals of these two professions seem like someone’s assumptions of what they’re like based on watching other television portrayals, rather than the result of basic research.
It won’t stop be rooting for good ole DD, though.
UPDATE: A murder trial in a week? A speedy trial request speeds up a trial to three months after the arraignment. No way the prosecution could put together a case in that amount of time, let alone comply with discovery.