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FYS Newsroom Discussion Questions September 21, 2013

1.) In the first portion of Will McAvoy’s outburst, he lists several pieces of 

evidence as to why he feels that America is not the greatest country in the 

world. He states categories in which the United States ranks behind other 

countries such as math, science, infant mortality, and income. Is this a valid 

measure to determine the “greatest country in the world” ?


2.) He lists three things at which the United States leads the world: incarcerated 

citizens per capita, number of adults who believe that angels are real, and 

defense spending (more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of which 

are our allies). Clearly from his context, his tone of voice and his body 

language, he does not feel that these are good categories in which to lead 

the world. Others might argue that capturing lots of criminals, belief in 

the spiritual, and a strong defense are good qualities. Does this part of his 

argument work for you? Why or why not?


3.) In the second part of his outburst, once he has calmed down a bit, he 

identifies ways in which the United States used to be better. He claims that 

we didn’t scare as easy, we fought poverty, not poor people, we struck down 

laws for moral reasons, and we admired intelligence, not belittled it. Do 

these arguments justify his claim that the U.S. is not the greatest country in 

the world?


4.) Later in the episode, Mackenzie says that the thing he didn’t mention in the 

outburst was that the U.S. is the only country whose people never stop trying 

to be better. Does this rebuttal balance the issues McAvoy brings up in the 

outburst? Do you belief that it is true?


5.) One point that the later portions of the show emphasizes is that news 

stations (and the people who work there) decides what is “news”. It seems 

the opposite of what we expect in “real life” – that news happens and news 

organizations report it. Based on the show, to what extent to employees of 

news programs “make” the news versus report the news?


6.) Clearly Mackenzie has strong feelings about what makes a good news show, 

and Will argues that her vision would violate the revenue model of news 

organizations. What desirable characteristics does Mackenzie promote? Why 

could this potentially conflict with the show’s revenue generation?




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