This list of the 10 best movies about journalism runs the gamut from violent and intense to light-hearted and comical. Journalism has always been a favorite topic for filmmakers, but these movies are the best of the best.
- “Citizen Kane” Considered by many to be the best movie of all time, it should be of little surprise then that “Citizen Kane” also ranks at the top of our list of the best movies about journalism. A thinly-veiled fictionalization of William Randolph Hearst, Orson Welles’ Kane has arguably become more iconic than his real-life counterpart.
- “All the President’s Men” Another fictionalization of real life journalists, this retelling of the story of Woodward and Bernstein, the two "Washington Post" reporters who broke the Watergate scandal wide open, is considerably more faithful to the source material than “Citizen Kane.” The story is still riveting, and the movie very well done.
- “Network” “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Chances are that you’ve heard that iconic line before, even if you haven’t seen this movie. This is where it came from, though; a satirical look at the TV news industry, it follows a disgruntled news anchor who takes his fight to the air after learning he is to be fired from his job. It is a spot-on skewering of the pursuit of ratings over real journalism.
- “Shattered Glass” Another movie based on a real life journalist, “Shattered Glass” tells the story of disgraced fraud Stephen Glass, a once-promising reporter for “The New Republic” who was eventually exposed as being nothing more than a journalistic con man. It’s another cautionary tale, this time about the lengths to which journalists sometimes go in order to earn recognition.
- “Frost/Nixon” Perhaps at no time in history have there been interviews as breathtaking as those that took place between journalist David Frost and former President Richard Nixon. Recorded not long after Nixon’s resignation, they were a fascinating look at a man struggling until the last to convince himself and the world that he did nothing wrong.
- “The Insider” Another film based on real events, “The Insider” is the story of Jeffrey Wigand, a tobacco industry whistleblower who went on “60 Minutes” with damning info showing that the industry knew just how harmful its product was. Russell Crowe played the role of Wigand, and he didn’t even have to beat anybody up to get it.
- “Good Night, and Good Luck” Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt for communist conspirators both real and imagined was a dark time in American history. One of the strongest voices against the McCarthy hearings was journalist Edward R. Murrow, and this film chronicles his fight against McCarthy.
- “His Girl Friday” Considerably more light-hearted than the other films on this list, “His Girl Friday” was a comedy directed by classic film auteur Howard Hawks. Starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, it was a battle-of-the-sexes sort of film about a newspaper editor’s attempts to keep his ex-wife (and ex-reporter) from remarrying.
- “The Killing Fields” This film follows a group of journalists as they witness firsthand the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1970s Cambodia. A screwball comedy this is not. Rather, it is a suitably intense movie about one of the most horrific massacres of the last century.
- “The China Syndrome" Unlike so many of the other movies about journalism on this list, this film about the cover-up of a nuclear meltdown was not based on real-life events. By sheer coincidence, though, it was released just twelve days before the accident on Three Mile Island, a real-life nuclear meltdown. That certainly helped the film’s popularity and cemented it as one of the most talked about movies about journalism ever.
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