10 Great Journalism Movies For Summer

Want to refresh your batteries this summer – go rent some DVDs. I personally like Blockbuster online, but Netflix works good too. Just click and they show up in the mailbox. Here’s some great movies to get excited about journalism again this summer:

1. Shattered Glass – This is probably one of the best journalism movies ever made. It focuses on ethics and how easy it is to ignore the faults in the popular kid in the newsroom as he makes news out of whole cloth. Based on the true story of Stephen Glass at the New Republic.  PG-13

2. Good Night and Good Luck – Second best journalism movie ever made. It is of course the story of Edward R. Murrow and his fight against McCarthyism. And he even smokes on air – a sin under the new MPAA rules. PG

3. The Pelican Brief – Denzel Washington plays a great newspaper reporter. I like to use just the part where he interviews her and reviews his notes with my students. It is a great way to show kids how to take good notes. Based on the John Grisham novel. PG-13

4. The Killing Fields – Another great true story of a photographer Dith Pran and a reporter during the fall of Laos and the aftermath. R

5. All The President’s Men - I guess you just can’t escape this movie, the grand-daddy of all journalism movies. If you don’t know about Watergate, then you might want to check out a history book first. PG

6. State of Play – Really good movie about the modern world of journalism.  It’s all in here, the salty old dog reporter and the young pup with a blog, layoffs, technology, politicians, a scandal, a corporate boss and good old fashioned beat reporting.  PG-13

7. Absence of Malice – Another good story about ethics and when you should print information that might be damaging. This is one of the few fictional ones on the list. PG

8. The Truman Show – Not really about journalism, but about our television culture and how much we are invading into people’s personal space and the Orwellian camera culture we all live in today.  PG-13

9. The Devil Wears Prada – Pretty good movie based on the book of the same name about the difficulties of breaking in and working at a fashion magazine. The movie is now an obit for a dying industry. PG13

10. Broadcast News – Pretty good movie on what is fake in the news. Some good scenes you could actually use to show kids how a news interview is really done and how looks are sometimes more important than talent. R

11. The Paper - Micheal Keeton plays a great foul mouthed, deadline oriented, sensationalist editor. An often too realistic look at many daily newspapers. R

Bonus 12+ Superman or Spiderman – Who doesn’t see journalists as superheros (especially journalism teachers)? Go rent almost any one of the movies featuring Peter Parker or Clark Kent.

And www.imdb.com, the Internet Movie Database, has a great new feature – search by topic: journalism, television, photographer, etc.

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14 Comments

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  2. How about “His Girl Friday”? great movie about the ‘newspaper business’ in the 1930′s and 40′s and the dedication of ‘getting the story’……….also shows differences b/t men and women at the time…starring Cary Grant and Roselind Russell–WONDERFUL MOVIE!!!!

    ALSO…”The Front Page” with Jack Lemon is supposed to be a classic about “newspaper men”

    AND….Clark Gable in”It Happened One Night”…a newspaper
    man gets his story (and the rich girl!)….CLASSIC

    AND ….”Teachers Pet” starring Clark Gable and Doris Day, about the old and new way of writing newspaper articles

    POWER OF THE MEDIA….the cigarette whistle blower with Russell Crowe, “The Insider” shows the power of the press.

    LAST BUT NOT LEAST…..”Citizen Cane”……based on the life and time of William R. Hearst.

  3. What about “Salvador”, by Martin Scorsese ????
    And “Veronica Guerin”, about the irish reporter?
    And “No man’s land”, about abusive reporting in war (in this movie Serbia/Kosovo conflict)?

  4. Veronica Guerin is a good one – but rated R in the US, so many school teachers can’t show it.

    I have not seen Salvador or No Man’s Land – maybe next summer!

  5. FYI Salvador was directed by Oliver Stone

  6. Hi… Nice list. But I think you are missing a few good movies. I can suggest a few more. UNDER FIRE , CHINA SYNDROME, CITY OF GOD
    Then there is CITIZEN KANE, SCOOP and DEADLINE USA

  7. [...] Movies? Jump to Comments Journalism movie options [...]

  8. Where is “The Front Page”? If you have Superman or Spiderman, which SHOULD NOT be on this list, you must have “The Front Page”…and where the hell is “Network”?!!!! Do you know your craft?

    • I only try to add movies that you can show in high school – that eliminates a lot of journalism movies due to R ratings. I did include two movies with an R rating, but hope to take them off this list. Second, I also try to use only movies with actors that high school students might actually know. You’ll notice a lack of movies over 30 years old.

      • giving your students only what they would like/want instead of something that would be good and eye-opening for them? Spoken like a true journalist of today…sensationalism, crowd-pleasing, and shallow. I’m glad I had teachers that showed me movies (old or not) that were new to me, that taught me about what we were learning and not just entertaining.
        That said, I like a lot of the other movies in your list.

      • Thanks Joseph, but I usually only give these movies to my students on sub days. I have learned that kids will do nearly anything to get out of working on sub days. So, I choose to use movies that will provide them with a journalism message (usually ethics) that they are likely to actually watch.

  9. also, how to lose a guy in 10 days.

  10. “The Bang Bang Club” 2010 with Ryan Philipe. Its a true story about a group of photojournalists covering from within the Suharto ghetto. Its freaking crazy good.


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