Lindy, I’d have to watch the movie again — it’s been years since I’ve seen it — but I don’t remember Tom refusing to “care about anything she did.” In fact, he put himself in a position to learn from her and enjoyed their working relationship. Ultimately, it could be argued that he was using her to advance his career, but it had to be more nuanced than that or else it would make Jane look a poor judge of character to fall for a guy like that.
I’ve always seen the story as Jane being the Protagonist, it’s clear from the introduction and all the way through the story. Her journey is in large part working her way through her deep commitment to her work and where her personal life fits into it. We see that very early on when she gets done talking with the Albert Brooks character on the phone, she unplugs it, and goes on a crying jag for about 20 seconds, then it’s back into professional mode. That moment affords us a window into her inner life of emotions and that tension is explored throughout the story.
There’s that great scene I remember where Jane is at a company party at her boss’s house and a female colleague approaches Jane to ask if she has a thing for Tom or if Tom is a free agent. At first, Jane reacts in her professional mode [paraphrase], “No, of course not, why would you think that.” So off the colleague goes, heading toward Tom. But then Jane gets to thinking… or rather perhaps feeling… and a minute or so later, she goes to the colleague and says, “On second thought, no, you can’t go out with Tom because I like him” [again paraphrased].
To me, Tom’s character works on an obvious level as symbolic of how TV news was getting swept up in ratings and good looking anchorpersons, moving away from hard journalism. Beyond that, he’s an Attractor character in relation to Jane’s Protagonist, only he’s a false Attractor because he does run counter to Jane’s commitment her profession. In the end, she makes a tough, but what feels like the only and right decision she could — reject Tom. Nor does she settle for a romance with Brooks’ character. He’s a friend, not a lover. Jane chooses to lead her life her way. As you say, she won’t settle and we feel good about that choice.
Thanks for your observations. I’ve added Broadcast News to my Rewatch List.