For many people, the escapism that the movies provide into someone else's world and life can inspire movie goers to follow in certain characters' footsteps. Die Hard spurred a generation of wannabe policemen, while the Endless Summer roused a throng of surfers chasing the perfect wave. Journalism movies have had a similar effect. The story hunting and investigative excitement of pursuing a groundbreaking or landmark investigation has inspired many young reporters to follow suit. Journalism movies often emphasise the best aspects and functions of its role in society - such as holding those in power accountable and unearthing exploitation or making important cultural commentary.
Here are a few renowned movies about journalism that shed light on the life and role of the journalist.
- Blood Diamond (2006). This Edward Zwick film is set in the Sierra Leone Civil War and centres on the story of government soldiers and rebel forces clashing over control of diamond production.Danny Archer, a South African diamond smuggler gets caught in the act and journalist Maddy Brown agrees to help him out of Africa if he spills the information she needs to expose the secrets of the blood diamond industry (diamonds acquired through forced labour and slavery). Journalism, therefore, is essential in holding those trading conflict diamonds accountable.
- Almost famous (2001). This Cameron Crowe film follows a teenage journalist, William Miller, who wants to break into the music journalism industry. He falls into an assignment for Rolling Stone magazine to follow and report on rock band Stillwater. His difficulty in extracting interviews and information from the band members, and his uncensored exposure to the dark side of the music industry highlights the challenges that come with the journalist's profession and the responsibility in accurately documenting a person or event. The film also exposes the difficulties of breaking into the journalism industry.
- All the President's Men (1976). This film follows the story of two of the world's most renowned journalists - Woodward and Bernstein - and the breaking of the Watergate scandal. The Watergate scandal involved US president Richard Nixon and his illegal tampering and actions during the election process. It started with a Nixon-backed break in to the Democratic National Committee Headquarters and ended with Nixon's resignation. With their anonymous informer nicknamed ‘Deep Throat', Woodward and Bernstein find themselves at the centre of a complicated and sometimes dangerous investigation that ultimately led to the downfall of a President. The Woodward and Bernstein story shows journalism's influence in holding those in power accountable and paved the way for greater US government and political transparency.
- State of Play (2009). This fast-paced and plot-twisting movie involves two journalists - a traditional reporter for the Washington Post and a blogger - in their relentless pursuit to uncover the conspiracy and truth behind two seemingly unrelated deaths, one of which is a Congressman's assistant. Their efforts expose a corporate cover-up and show the results that persistent and passionate journalism can wield.
If you're a fan of journalism movies and love getting swept up in the drama, emotions and excitement of uncovering and following important stories and breakthroughs, then perhaps you are suited to a career in journalism. Investigate your nearest school of journalism and enrol in a journalism course - you'll be on your way to uncovering the next Woodward and Bernstein scandal!
Don't just watch journalism - do it!