Spotlight brought attention to the fact that there are “good” journalists
out there. And in the words of Sacha Pfeiffer, “Thanks Hollywood. You
did good” (Pfeiffer 26).
While Spotlight might be the most recent film portraying “good”
journalism, All The President’s Men is a classic depiction of dedicated
reporters. Based on the Watergate scandal in which two journalists at
The Washington Post discover information that leads directly to the
resignation of President Richard Nixon, the film earned eight Oscar
nominations, including Best Picture. In my opinion, Bob Woodward
and Carl Bernstein exhibited immense persistence in light of the lack of
cooperation from the White House administration. Although they
followed some false leads in the midst of their investigation, and
experienced immense pressure from their bosses, they persisted. One
scholar notes that the journalists’ efforts portrayed in the film “can best
be understood as a monument to democracy in action” and I could not
agree more because of their determination to discover the truth and
deliver it to the public (Heller-Nicholas 123). While the film is quite
political, it’s “broader…declaration” is that “anyone can make a
difference in America” (Heller-Nicholas 126). Qualities such as
“honesty, hard work, determination and perseverance are privileged in
this film as an antidote to a system riddled with corruption, deceit, greed
and lies,” and the inclusion of all of this is exactly why All The President’s
Men celebrates the very purpose of journalism and the free press
(Heller-Nicholas 126).
Although films that celebrate the “good journalist” restore
humanity’s faith and trust in the press, there are various Hollywood
depictions of the “bad journalist” that denounce it. Using Dalton’s
theories in The Hollywood Curriculum, we can draw a striking comparison
between the “bad teacher” and the “bad journalist.” Her description
highlights these particular teachers as “avoid[ing] personal contact with
students,” lacking ethical value frameworks, manipulative, and
“typically bored by students” (Dalton 61-70). Quite similarly, I argue
that the “bad journalist” is someone who is closed-minded, exhibits a
lack of compassion, often acts in manipulative ways, plagiarizes, does
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