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Journalism on the screen

April 7, 2010

By Klinta Dzene

Have you ever seen the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally (1989)?  In the first minutes of the film a young man and woman are sharing a car to New York and have a witty conversation about their lives –

Harry: So why don’t you tell me the story of your life.
Sally: The story of my life?
Harry: We got 18 hours to kill before we hit New York.
Sally: The story of my life isn’t even gonna get us out of Chicago; I mean, nothing’s happened to me yet. That’s why I’m going to New York.
Harry: So something will happen to you?
Sally: Yes.
Harry: Like what?
Sally: Like I’m going to journalism school to become a reporter.
Harry: So you can write about things that happen to other people.
Sally: That’s one way to look at it.

There are many ways to look at journalism as a profession, but one thing is clear – it is going to be something exciting. This could be a reason, why journalism has been depicted in so many films – from various sides.

Romantic comedies, for their part, have found ways to use journalism to tell touching love stories, for instance, Gregory Peck as a journalist gives us a good story in the name of love in Roman Holiday (1953). Or Drew Barrymore and Kate Hudson personages find their true loves writing articles in Never Been Kissed (1999) and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003).

Ethics of journalism is covered in films like Shattered Glass (2003) and Thank You for Smoking (2005). The first one is based on a true story, when a young journalist deceived the editorial staff and readers by writing false stories. However Heather Holloway (played by Katie Holmes) seduces the main character to get information and then reveals very uncomfortable details about him in her article in Thank You for Smoking.

Every journalism student tries to see film All the President’s Men (1976) – where two journalists bring down the President of the United States through investigative journalism. Burma VJ (2008) is a documentary which follows a young man, who risks his life, filming monk protests in Burma in 2007 thus revealing what is really happening in a country ruled by military dictatorship.

Media being portrayed in films can be intriguing. Which films do you like about journalists?

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