seen as either “good” or “bad,” I argue that journalists can be viewed
through the exact same lens. Through a deep exploration of films
including Spotlight (2015), All The President’s Men (1976), Shattered Glass
(2003) and Ace in the Hole (1951) along with research and publications
by Matthew C. Ehrlich, a scholar in the historical and cultural studies
of journalism at the University of Illinois, and the work of other
scholars such as Mary Dalton, we can better understand the significant
impact films have on how journalists are viewed in American society.
As I began my exploration of various sources, I was
immediately intrigued by Matthew C. Ehrlich’s book Journalism in the
Movies. Ehrlich’s immense knowledge about the field of journalism, the
study of media, and the correlation between the two was evident. In
order to move further into my argument, we must first identify and
understand Ehrlich’s theories about the ways in which journalism and
film simultaneously influence each other. As he himself states, “To
study how movies have accomplished [the portrayal of the press’
“power to expose and enlighten”) is to gain a better perspective on both
journalism and ourselves (Ehrlich, 2004, 15). Films have significantly
influenced the ways in which we view journalists “from the start of the
sound era to the present,” and these portrayals often revolve around
the journalist acting as a hero or a villain (Ehrlich, 2004, 1). The
directors have included “everyone from dedicated pursuers of truth to
venal tycoons, and this idea is an integral piece of what I have also
found to be factual within my personal research and screenings
(Ehrlich, 2004, 6). Ehrlich breaks down the notion of what exactly
qualifies a journalist to be considered “good” and highlights
Hollywood’s construction of him or her as a “respectable, upright
member of society who works for the common good” (Ehrlich, 2004,
8). Quite originally, Ehrlich compares this type of journalist to
“dedicated teachers and lawyers,” an idea that aligns with my respective
argument and beliefs (Ehrlich, 2004, 8). He states his contrasting
opinion on the way in which the “bad journalist” is viewed, as well, and
this involves him or her “hold[ing] no particular hope for society’s
betterment,” “view[ing] the world and especially the institutions of
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