7 films for aspiring journalists and writers

Karina Chan

Do you dream of chasing down headlines? These seven films will give you an insight into the gritty world of journalism

Karina Chan |

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If ever your faith in the importance of good journalism starts to waver, these movies will restore it.

His Girl Friday (1940)

Cary Grant stars in this screwball comedy as New York newspaper editor Walter Burns, whose ex-wife, investigative reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is engaged to another man. Burns tries to lure her away with a story of the execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams. But when Johnson finds out Williams may be innocent, her reporter instincts take over.

The Post (2017)

If ever your faith in the importance of good journalism starts to waver, this movie will restore it. The impeccable Meryl Streep stars as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of The Washington Post. Graham and her fiery editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) must overcome their differences to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets, risking their careers and freedom in the process.

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All the President’s Men (1976)

This iconic film tells the true events of a major political scandal that occurred in the 1970s in the US. Bob Woodward (Robert Redford), a junior reporter from The Washington Post, works with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) to cover a small break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington DC. However, they soon discover that the break-in was part of a much bigger pattern of corruption within the Nixon administration, and it’s their job to expose it.

Live From Baghdad (2002)

When the Gulf war broke out in 1991, CNN was the only news source to broadcast live coverage of the conflict. Based on the memoirs of CNN producer Robert Wiener, Live From Baghdad follows Wiener (Michael Keaton), his colleague Ingrid Formanek (Helena Bonham Carter) and their crew as they head to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, to show the rest of the world what is taking place there.

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The Insider (1999)

A research scientist for a tobacco company, Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) reveals in an interview for a TV show that his company knows more about the addictive properties of nicotine than it shares with the public. Show producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) promises to protect Wigand after he has leaked the information. By going public with the story, both men are putting themselves at risk.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Just before publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) dies, he utters the word “Rosebud”. Reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) is sent to find out who Kane really was, and what Rosebud meant to him. His investigation reveals the complexities of Kane’s life, although Thompson fears he may never find out the meaning of that curious word.

Spotlight (2015)

Though the subject matter may be disturbing for some, Spotlight is not only a good film but an important one. The movie revolves around the investigative journalism team at The Boston Globe newspaper, led by Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), as they expose the widespread cover-up of child abuse within the Catholic church. Essential viewing on an essential topic.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge