James "Jim" Harper is a Senior Producer for News Night.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Behind the scenes
1 In January 2008 Jim left the United States for the Middle East with MacKenzie McHale, reporting stories from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
In November 2008, Jim, Mac and their crew covered the 'Green Zone' in Baghdad, Iraq until November 2009, when the crew moved to Peshawar, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.At some point, during his reporting overseas, he was shot in the rear-end. ("News Night 2.0")
Jim followed Executive Producer Mackenzie MacHale back to the USA from their work reporting on the Iraq War, taking a job as a senior producer at News Night when she was appointed Executive Producer for the program in April 2010. ("We Just Decided To")
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
On April 20, 2010 Jim's first work for News Night was reporting on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Jim, correctly, insisted on the importance of the story over the protests of outgoing executive producer Don Keefer and brought the story to the attention of Mackenzie and anchor Will McAvoy. Jim told him about the report and his highly placed sources within BP and Haliburton who were very concerned about controlling the spill. Staffer Neal Sampat contributed information about how bad the spill could get. Will told anyone moving to 10:00 with Elliot and Don to leave for a two-week paid vacation. He then enlisted the help of his remaining staff to work on the story.
Will interviewed three people from the companies involved with the situation, skillfully questioning them and successfully painting a picture of how serious the spill was. During the broadcast, Maggie uncovered some damning information about the Minerals Management Service and got a junior inspector on the line who had last inspected the Deepwater Horizon well. This interview exposed the fact that the MMS was underfunded and did not have the manpower to adequately inspect all wells. After the show ended, Will was applauded by Jim and the staff. ("We Just Decided To")
News Night 2.0
Unhappy with the way ACN and News Night was covering the news, Mac proposed "News Night 2.0", a complete overhaul of the way the news was covered based on three "I"s: 1) Is this information we need in the voting booth? 2) Is this the best possible form of the argument? 3) Is the story in historical context?
Mac and Jim present a segment about the immigration bill in Arizona and their intentions to bring on an expert and the Governor of Arizona to debate the bill.
Jim approaches Maggie Jordan to practice her pre-interview with the Governor's press aide. Maggie protests the supervision and during the practice interview she shows Jim her passion for the subject and impresses him enough for him to let her do the pre-interview on her own.
Jim finds out that Maggie blew the interview with the Governor's press aide. Maggie admits that she briefly dated the press aide in college. It ended embarrassingly and she mistakenly kept if from Jim. They call an emergency meeting to find a replacement guest for the show. Unable to find a suitable replacement they get three highly unqualified guests for that evening's broadcast. Everyone is afraid to tell Will for fear of being fired. Mac again tries to defend Will and convince everyone that he's a good man. Frustrated she sends an email asking Will if she can reveal to everyone that she cheated on him. However, due to the new email system she sends it to the entire staff. Will is furious and then apoplectic when he finds out about the night's replacement guests.
The staff licks their wounds at a karaoke bar after the broadcast. Don Keefer comes in and criticizes Maggie and they have a fight. Maggie then yells at Jim for covering for her in the meeting. After comforting Maggie for her mistake Jim reprimands the rest of their staff. ("News Night 2.0")
On air apology
Following the disastrous broadcast Will prepared and issued an on air apology for his failings as Managing Editor of News Night. He pledged to do better in reporting the news to inform the electorate. Mac welcomed the move and helped Will to craft the speech, including a rehearsal in front of their staff. Jim helped Will to develop the copy, receiving late night faxes of drafts from him. The apology aired at the opening of the show on Monday, April 26, 2010.
Don is upset that the apology makes it look as though he was partly responsible and because it makes his ratings driven 22:00 program seem silly. He sees the apology while drinking at a bar and goes to the News Night studio to confront Jim. He tells Jim that he is capable of delivering the program that they are working towards and confides his frustrations. When Jim tries to discuss it with him, Don ends the conversation abruptly. ("The 112th Congress")
Times Square bombing attempt
On Saturday, May 1, 2010 a bombing attempt in Times Square, New York City is defused without casualties after street vendors report a smoking vehicle to the police. On Monday, May 3, 2010 the perpetrator Faisal Shahzad is arrested at John F. Kennedy airport. At a News Night staff meeting on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, they decide not to criticize the system which successfully caught the would be terrorist bomber when he was boarding the plane. Despite the failure of the airline to update their files in time to recognize that he had been added to a no fly list a second line of checks by Customs and Border Protection led to his successful arrest and Jim characterizes this as the system working. They agree to cover the story in just 3 minutes at the opening of their program and not to sensationalize the arrest or the religious beliefs of Shahzad.
Maggie brings up international coverage of the story during the meeting and explains that while t-shirt vendor Lance Orton contacted the police it was a Senegalese Muslim immigrant who first noticed the smoking vehicle. He asked Orton to contact the authorities because he was concerned but did not want his poor English to garble the message. Maggie successfully argues that if the religion of the bomber is relevant then so is the religion of the man that saved hundreds of lives. News Night is one of the few American networks to report that the danger was first recognized by the Muslim street vendor.
Maggie is increasingly troubled by anxiety and suffers panic attacks at work when her medication is stolen by her roommates boyfriend. Jim uses his experience of anxiety among combat troops to calm her down. Maggie continues to have a fractious relationship with her boyfriend Don. Jim develops feelings for Maggie and his friend and colleague Neal urges him to pursue her. Jim does not reveal his feelings because of her relationship with Don. ("The 112th Congress")
The 112th Congress elections
News Night focuses a portion of its coverage on the Tea Party and their views, funding and co-opting of the Republican Party. The incisive coverage culminates with a live broadcast in November 2010 on the day of the 112th Congressional elections where the Tea Party win many seats. ("The 112th Congress")
End of 2010
At the News Night New Year's Eve party on December 31, 2010 Jim spends the evening looking for stories that the show might have missed during the year. Neal is trying to convince him (and everyone else) to run a story on the true existence of Bigfoot. Maggie comes over to help Jim and try to convince him to join the party. Their work is cut short when Don arrives at the party and announces that he intends to set Jim up with Maggie's roommate Lisa.
The staff meet the next day and decide to pursue stories about misrepresentation; particularly of both The President's gun control record and his diplomatic trip to India. Mac is frustrated when Will's philandering earns him gossip column inches.
Jim and Lisa's date goes well and he agrees to see her again. He lies to Maggie and says that they will not be going out again. Don tells Maggie that Jim and Lisa are going on a second date despite Jim's claims to the contrary. Don tricks Maggie into calling Jim and then calls Lisa's phone. Maggie hears Lisa's Rod Stewart ringtone in the background, and realizes that she is sleeping with Jim. ("I'll Try to Fix You")
Gabrielle Giffords shooting
On Saturday January 8, 2011 Neal assembles the staff to pitch his Bigfoot story. Maggie and Jim argue in front of the staff over Jim's lie. Jim punishes Maggie's insubordination by putting her on the assignment desk for the day.
Charlie calls Will in to discuss the gossip stories about him. Maggie breaks up the meeting to announce the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. During the show's coverage, a false report spreads on Fox, CNN and MSNBC that the Congresswoman is dead. Reese Lansing charges into the studio to convince Will to report her death but Will refuses. Moments later reports that she is alive and in surgery are confirmed. ("I'll Try to Fix You")
News Night covers civil unrest in Cairo after the Egyption president refuses to leave his post despite losing the election. Elliot Hirsch travels to Cairo to report from the scene but is forced to remain inside when riots break out. Don Keefer is disappointed that Elliot is not out in the middle of things.
Maggie Jordan catches wind of a new story during the broadcast; a protest in Wisconsin that is condemning the governor's plan to balance the budget at the detriment of teachers and other public sector union employees. Mackenzie MacHale agrees to cover both and Maggie and Jim scramble to prepare footage for the segments. Maggie clumsily shuts a door in Jim's face, injuring him.
After the show, Mac chairs a staff meeting where a new story about the Koch brothers is discussed. They have linked their involvement with Citizens United to a plan to eventually abolish workers unions. Neal raises the idea of using a stringer in Cairo to get better coverage, having already established contact with someone using the alias "Amen".
Don gets word that Elliot went out into the riots and was attacked. Elliot is battered but alive, and on his way back to the USA. Jim applauds when Elliot is later welcomed back to the newsroom. Maggie gives Jim a set of instructions to ensure that he gives her roommate, Lisa Lambert, a good Valentine's Day.
Neal loses contact with Amen and fears that something has happened to him. The staff struggle to locate Amen while also prepping their next show. Neal discovers that Amen is in Egyptian military custody and that they are demanding an extortionate ransom. The broadcast covers the teacher's protest in depth. Lisa comes into the office, furious that Jim forgot about their date and stood her up. Maggie admits that she tried to arrange it and Jim apologizes.
Will pays for Amen's release. Mac arranges for the staff to each give Will a cheque to contribute, mimicking a scene from one of Will's favorite films, Rudy. ("Amen")
Mac has Jim and Maggie conduct "opposition research" about Will in advance of a sexual harassment complaint hearing. Maggie tells Jim that the complaint is about Will shouting at her for making a mistake, and that she does not feel it was sexual harassment. Their research uncovers very little, except that Will had a job offer to host a talk show for Fox just before he discovered Mac was cheating on him.
Will conducts a disastrous interview with Sutton Wall, the homosexual former Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Rick Santorum. He ends the show by reading out website comments lauding Will's attack on Wall. Will is chagrined and decides to introduce a registration policy for website comments to remove the safety of anonymity from commenters.
Will interviews Phylis Greer about the building of a Muslim community centre at Ground Zero in New York. This is quickly followed by Will receiving a death threat from someone who has hacked into the site. Greer, and the hacker, were vehemently against the idea. The threat causes Will's insurance company to insist on Lonny Church guarding him. ("Bullies")
Behind the scenes
|"We Just Decided To"||"News Night 2.0"||"The 112th Congress"||"I'll Try to Fix You"||"Amen"|
|"Bullies"||"5/1"||"The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn"||"The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate"||"The Greater Fool"|
|"First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers"||"The Genoa Tip"||"Willie Pete"||"Unintended Consequences"||"News Night with Will McAvoy"|
|"One Step Too Many"||"Red Team III"||"Election Night, Part I"||"Election Night, Part II"|
|"Boston"||"Run"||"Main Justice"||"Contempt"||"Oh Shenandoah"|
|"What Kind of Day Has It Been"|