When I read a story or watch it on the news, I start thinking about the people involved and all that they had to deal with during the time. In such circumstances, journalism-related films, shows and documentaries have helped me better understand the scenario through the compelling characters and in-depth research of the case.
Apart from helping me visualise important events such as the Iraq war and the Vietnam war, they are also incredibly relatable on a day to day basis. Be it through the challenges that I face in the newsroom or while I am struggling to strike a work-life/ personal life balance, these shows have entertained me and kept me sane.
Whether you are a journalist or have wondered what it would like to be one, here are the best journalism-related films, shows and documentaries for you:
1. The Newsroom (2012-14)
The show aired on HBO in 2012 with anchor Will McAvoy played by Jeff Daniels and his team. It revolves around the day-to-day challenges that journalists face in the newsroom and on the field. It also reflects on their personal lives and how difficult it becomes for journalists to sometimes keep the work/life balance. The Newsroom has 3 seasons but you would want more of it!
2. The Post (2017)
The film stars Meryl Street as Katherine Graham, the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Post. The film follows the American newspaper’s quest of publishing the Pentagon Papers that proved the United States’ involvement in Vietnam and the difficult decisions that Graham was forced to make in the wake of the news.
3. Control Room (2004)
This is a documentary film was produced by Magnolia Pictures that takes you inside Al Jazeera’s coverage of the US war on Iraq. If you are a journalist and want to cover war, this is your guide!
4. The Morning Show (2019)
This show produced by Apple TV has an A-list cast that gives the viewers a tour of all that goes in the world of morning shows. It is only on its second season but has already been nominated for the Emmys.
I am loving The Morning Show these days. Makes me laugh at my own behind the scenes of working in a newsroom and handling the chaos! Apple expanded the show’s scope and incorporated the #MeToo movement into the premise: In the pilot’s opening minutes, the beloved anchor Mitch Kessler, played by Steve Carell is fired from the titular morning show because of sexual misconduct in the workplace.
5. Spotlight (2015)
The film is based on The Boston Globe’s Spotlight unit, the newspaper’s investigative team. Spotlight follows a series of true events that unfold allegations of molestation against a priest. In the year 2003, the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the same story.
6. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2018)
Michael Moore’s remarkable documentary about the Bush Administration and the events in the aftermath of the tragic 9/11 aims to unmask the American system and gives the viewers the other side of the story to ponder upon.
7. Sharp Objects (2018)
This one is based on Gillian Flynn’s debut novel by the same name. The film is a psychological thriller that revolves around reported Camille Preaker who is back in her town from a psychiatric hospital to find out about two murders.
8. Frost/Nixon (2008)
The film is based on the post-Watergate interview series between the British anchor, David Frost and former US President Richard Nixon. The film was not really about Nixon or Watergate at all. I felt that it was more about human behavior, and it rises upon such transcendent themes as guilt and innocence, resistance and enlightenment, confession and redemption.
9. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The film is based on the bestseller by Lauren Weisberger that is a documentation of her own experiences as an Assistant to the Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. This Anne Hathaway starter film exposes the ugly side of fashion journalism and makes you wonder just how much you’d be able to give up for your career.
10. The Bold Type (2017-2021)
A series that skillfully crafted a media fantasy world that was based on the life of Cosmopolitan’s former Editor in Chief, Joanna Coles. The show’s central arguments may just be ideas we can all emulate: women can be fulfilled by their careers, infuse the professional with the personal and modernize an often male-dominated, occasionally stuffy industry from the inside.
11. Kill the Messenger (2014)
This 2014 film was based on a true story about the San Jose Mercury News, where reporter Gary Webb goes on a mission to uncover the CIA’s secret funding through cocaine trafficking for the Nicaraguan rebels.
12. Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
The film released in the year 2005 but, it is in black and white. The story is a fictional account of renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow’s report on the then US Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist investigations prevailing inside the Congress. Director by none other than George Clooney, the film was nominated for many awards after it hit the big screen.
13. All the President’s Men (1976)
Yes, it is an old one. Yes, it is also about the Watergate scandal, but hear me out.
The journalism-related film is based on The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who brought the political scandal to attention. The film was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry, for its historical significance.
14. Being Mary Jane (2013-2019)
The main theme of the journalism-related film and show is love (or the lack of it) in a journalist’s life. Mary Jane Parker played by Gabrielle Union is successful, has a high rating show, everyone likes her but, no one loves her. But of course, we are all here for Mary Jane’s happy ending and she sure does get one. You have to watch the show to know the ending.
15. The Pelican Brief (1993)
This thriller released in 1993 and was based on the novel by John Grisham that explores a law student’s brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court justices. The student then gets into contact with an investigative reporter to help her connect the missing dots in the case.
16. The Insider (1999)
This is a fictional account of the 60 minutes report produced about Jeffrey Wigand, the whistleblower involved in the tobacco industry scandal. You have to watch the film for Al Pacino’s finest performance as an award-winning journalist, Lowell Bergman who unravels the case.
17. Nothing but the Truth (2008)
As journalists, out of the many oaths that we take, one that we are sure to give our life for is protecting our sources and that is exactly what this reporter gets into trouble for.
The film stars Kate Beckinsale and reminds viewers of the real-life travails of Judith Miller, the former reporter for The New York Times who spent 85 days in jail in 2005. It adds to and pivots from the historical record, and it sharpens the difficult legal, moral and ethical issues in the Miller case.
18. His Girl Friday (1940)
Journalists have a personal life, too. This journalism-related film narrates the story of a newspaper editor who is desperate to get back his ex-wife, a reporter.
19. Good Girls Revolt (2015-2016)
This Amazon Prime Original series was based on the sexual discrimination case chronicled in Lynn Povich’s book and set in 1969. It revolves around young female researchers at News of the Week. All they seek is fair treatment while they are being discriminated against by not being allowed to become news reporters.
20. Bombshell (2019)
This 2019 film was based on a true case of sexual harassment at Fox News. Bombshell celebrates the women that the news channel in the spotlight made a mockery of and gives them a voice.
21. Supergirl (2015-2021)
This CBS show was about a journalist who wanted to spread truth and justice through the power of writing. Despite having superpowers, Kara decided to explore a new path for herself and become a reporter.
These journalism-related films and shows have all helped me in some way or the other, be it after a rough day in the newsroom or helping me plan my next move in case I feel too stuck in my routine. Now that we are all still stuck in our homes writing, they also remind us of what journalists used to (and will) look like!
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