Originally published on Thought Catalog.
With the Season 3 premiere of HBO’s series Game of Thrones approaching, I can’t help but find myself thinking about what the next line of episodes will be like.
However, while sitting in my Feature Writing class today, a 41-second preview ad popped up on my screen… and a strange thought crossed my mind.
Journalists share quite a bit in common with The Night’s Watch.
Journalists are what some once considered a noble profession, made up of people coming together to provide a needed and respected service for the greater good of a functioning democracy. They are the first line of defense for information coming to the public, and are tasked with seeing patterns before they occur — offering news in the context of humanity.
However, journalists are no longer seen as such. The world around them has changed, and with it, the regard for journalism’s necessity in everyone’s day-to-day lives.
The Night’s Watch, in Game of Thrones, is a group that was also once considered a noble profession, in the context of the story. The men of the Night’s Watch would be tasked with protecting the “realm” from the horrifying creatures of the north, standing mightily atop their impenetrable wall.
Thousands of years of peace have made the Night’s Watch an afterthought and a relic of time passed. Their necessity is being questioned, as is their relevance in the realm’s order of priorities.
Starting to sound familiar?
The connections don’t stop there. Let’s go one by one here.
GAME OF THRONES: The Wall is an enormous titan of architecture that separates the unorganized northern region of Westeros from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, or “The Realm.” It has protected the realm for thousands of years from the unknown creatures that reside in the harsh mountains of the north, but after years of slow inactivity and decline, The Wall is showing its age. Undermanned, The Wall is a husk of what it once was.
JOURNALISM: The Wall represents the idea of journalism pretty well. Journalism, which was intended to function as a protectant and observant watchdog for the public, served well in its glory days. Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow and so forth proved journalism has a necessary function for citizens of a democracy. However, over time, journalism has become tarnished with side-boobs, fighting and bias.
The White Walkers
GAME OF THRONES: North of the Wall, a ‘force’ known as “White Walkers” are slowly rising from their thousand year-long sleep. They have been dormant for years, and are considered by most of the ‘intellectual’ members of Westeros to be a myth or extinct afterthought. However, unbeknownst to everyone but The Night’s Watch, the White Walkers are in fact rising again, and pose a real threat to the Seven Kingdoms.
JOURNALISM: This one is an easy connection. The White Walkers represent a complete decimation of journalism. Slowly, steadily and creepily, we have seen the way citizens see, gather or find the news be transformed into micro-bursts or even worse — completely biased sources of news.
The War In The South
GAME OF THRONES: Tyrion Lannister hears a member of The Night’s Watch plea for more men and weapons to fight a growing number of disturbing attacks by what we know are White Walkers, but Tyrion assumes it to be just a random occurrence, or perhaps a ploy to get more resources. Tyrion can’t oblige their request because a thousand different people want to be king following the suspicious death of King Robert, leaving the Seven Kingdoms in a massive, sprawling war.
JOURNALISM: The War In The South is the public mindset. We are fixated on so many different things, that we barely notice the foundation of our news crumbling beneath our feet. People who are sympathetic to the media, much like Tyrion is sympathetic to The Night’s Watch, might see and understand the problem — but don’t do anything about it. If no one is watching what happens to the free and non-partisan press, then who will?
The real question is whether or not the rest of Westeros will realize their mistake and recognize the White Walker threat.
I guess we’ll find out whether or not journalism is saved in the next installment of Game of Thrones, though, having watched the show, it doesn’t leave me all that optimistic.
“News gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no bias, hold no opinion, father nothing but truth. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the pen in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of democracy. I pledge my life and honor to journalism, for this night and all the nights to come.”