The thing that I kept tripping on was, I didn’t want to do fictional news. With “The West Wing,” we had a fictional president, a fictional Congress. For some reason, that just didn’t feel right [for “The Newsroom”], and I wanted all the news to be real. I was given a chance to hang out at a bunch of different cable news places. And one of them was back when Keith Olbermann was working at “Countdown” [on MSNBC]. I was there on, I think, Day 52 and Day 53 of the BP oil spill. I was hoping that I would sit there and some story for the pilot would occur to me. It wasn’t happening. And I was in the control room staring at an Internet stream of the Spill Cam. That’s when I got the idea to constantly set the show in the very recent past. And that opened up a lot of doors. It’s great when the audience knows more than the characters do. For instance, Episode 7 is the night we got Bin Laden. The audience is obviously way ahead of us through this whole thing, waiting for our characters to catch up.
Source: The New York Times