Journalism in the Movies

By Bailey Berg

Recently, I’ve been applying for part-time jobs outside the journalism industry, and it seems like every time I tell a potential employer that I’m a journalism major it conjures up certain assumptions, not all of which are good.

These ideas have to come from somewhere, and it’s very likely they’re from the movies. While journalists have lent themselves to some great characters over the years, they’re not always portrayed well.

Whether they’re dramas like “Good Night and Good Luck,” “The Pelican Brief,” and “The Killing Fields or so-called “chick flicks” like “How to Loose a Guy in Just 10 Days,” “Sex and the City,” or comedies like “Almost Famous,” and “Zoolander,” or any other of numerous journalism based films, journalists are portrayed in certain ways. Some times we’re glamorous, other times we’re a nuisance to society.

Here a look of what the average person might see when they think of journalists. 

ImageThe Paper” (1994): The movie shows a day-in-the-life of a New York City tabloid newspaper. Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton) is the metro editor of the New York Sun who is frequently at odds with Alicia Clark (Glenn Close), the managing editor. The big news around New York involves the murder of two white businessmen in Brooklyn and two African American teenage boys are arrested for the crime. Henry and beat-reporter McDougal (Randy Quaid) discover it to be false charges, and set out to find the real culprits and scoop the competition. “The Paper” does a fantastic job of showing the fast-paced newsroom atmosphere, and the implication of a missed deadline.

ImageThe Devil Wears Prada” (2006): The movie is about recent college grad, Andrea Sachs, (Anne Hathaway), who wants to be a “serious writer,” but take a job as a co-assistant at a fashion magazine to “pay the bills.” Thing is, her boss is the incredibly demanding and all-powerful fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Andrea has to work ridiculously long hours, and be at Mirandas beck and call, never actually getting to do any writing. Supposedly, the movie is based on “Vogue Magazine” editor Anna Wintour, who is notorious for being hard to please.

ImageShattered Glass” (2003): Based on a real-life journalist, the movie tells the story of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) who fabricates numerous articles while writing for “The New Republic.” He’s found out, and tries to cover his tracks, but is in too deep and gets fired. Made Manuel describes it as “another cautionary tale, this time about the length to which journalists sometimes go in order to earn recognition.”

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3 responses to “Journalism in the Movies

  1. I can definitely see how these films may cause problems, but I would much rather be a journalist than a lawyer. Think about all of the movies in which lawyers are depicted as sneaky, heartless drones.

  2. Hahahaha! I feel like this every time I try and do a story for the TD. “Wait, this is going to be in the Times Delphic, I would rather not have my named published…” I always want to freak out at them and say, “I’m writing a story about finals what on Earth do you think I’m going to say that will ruin your reputation!?” People are crazy.

  3. Well Lauren, think of all the movies journalists act like piranhas. There are so many movies that depict the paparazzi going wild and disrupting peoples lives.

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