Journalists have a weird place in this world – do we love them for the stories they spin or hate them for ‘making things up’ as so many people seem to think they do?
Even weirder is their position in the world of films.
On the surface, journalism may not seem like the most cinematic of professions – there are no steamy on-call room romances which keep the medical dramas so popular and there’s no element of mystery that comes along with watching detective/crime shows.
And yet, reporters doing their job (uncovering the truth, breaking a big story) make for unlikely, yet welcome movie fodder.
Whether you’re a budding journalist or simply intrigued by the profession, here are some must-watch journalism films that are sure to make you want to get into a newsroom.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Considered the best movie of all time (despite failing to collect at the box office upon release), this legendary Orson Welles film is a fine example of journalism. A story of Charles Foster Kane, the head of a newspaper magnate whose power goes to his head and reporter Jerry Thompson, working to unearth the intricacies of the legacy he left behind.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Journalism is a job with little to no security- ask my friend who has a retail job on the side to support his journalistic dreams and he’ll agree. So the story of Marcello, a journalist torn between wanting to be a ‘serious writer’ yet intrigued by the allure of Rome’s elite social scene, is something that’s all too relatable even if set in a completely different time.
All the President’s Men (1976)
Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein unearth details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation. This reportage drama blends political thrills with the investigative skills of a journalist while also keeping you suitably entertained.
Broadcast News (1987)
Who says journalism can’t have some romance? This romantic-comedy about an emotionally volatile television news producer, a brilliant reporter and his handsome rival, mix well and show off the lighter side of a relatively heavy profession.
The Paper (1994)
Journalists are workaholics. As is the case for Henry Hackett – the editor of a New York City tabloid in The Paper. Long hours and low pay give way to a hot story that leaves him having to make some tough decisions. The Paper beautifully illustrates the insanity for working under the pressure of a deadline and confronts the ethics involved in a nitty-gritty profession.
Shattered Glass (2003)
Fabricating a story? A big NO in a journalist’s book. A true story chronicling the rise and fall of New Republic journalist Stephen Glass, Shattered Glass sticks out in my memory as one of the best journalism films. It also reminds me not to make things up in my articles, no matter how much I’m tempted to!
A period mystery thriller sees journos of the San Francisco Chronicle chase the notorious Zodiac killer – a great watch that shows you how addicting the profession can be. It’s mostly a job that’s about a shop closing down or traffic diversions, but every so often you get wind of a story that leads you down a dark, dark rabbit hole.
Jake Gyllenhaal caught your attention in Zodiac? Then his portrayal of an anti-hero who sells what he records to local news networks is sure to be of interest to you Nightcrawler showcases the side of journalism that’s most often forgotten in upright, justice-seeking cinematic narratives: journalism is a business and its stories a commodity.
A film that will have you wanting to take up investigative journalism and make you want to hold to account those that abuse power. Spotlight accounts Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church, accurately depicting the frustrations and elations of breaking a story and how one story can make your career.
The Post (2017)
A Spielberg drama focused on the personal and professional sacrifices made in journalism shows Washington Post publisher, Katharine Graham and editor, Ben Bradlee as they expose the government’s cover-up of the Vietnam War. This one is particularly great for its all-star cast including Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.
Can you think of any other films centred around journalism? Have we missed any?
Let us know @flick_whatUK.