Marilee Devries

Journalists at the movies, part two: five films to avoid

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By Marilee Devries

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the five movies about journalism that you should watch, here’s a compilation of their less-savoury counterparts. Not all of these films portray journalism poorly, but every one depicts the profession unrealistically in one way or another. Here’s how:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Besides dragons and the rebirth of the most evil wizard of all time (page-one material, to be sure), Harry Potter’s fourth-year adventures also feature Rita Skeeter, a snoopy journalist with no regard for truth, but a keen instinct for scoops. Skeeter covers the Triwizard Tournament, publishing inaccuracies that have major repercussions for our favourite boy wizard, and taking every unethical path imaginable to get her stories. (Skeeter’s paper TheDaily Prophet causes no end of grief for Harry and his friends in the last few novels of the series.)

Mad City 

A film about a journalist warping reality to suit his purposes, Mad City comes off as preachy and sanctimonious. It also takes a big swing at broadcast news and implies those who work in the industry are willing to manipulate and bury the truth to get a story. Mad City came out in 1997—an inopportune time, when concern about the influence of the media was growing, following coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial and the death of Princess Diana.

Thank You For Smoking

Katie Holmes plays Heather Holloway, a journalist trying to get the full story on a tobacco lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart). Her key strategy: having sex with him. This is generally frowned upon.

Runaway Bride

Richard Gere plays a lazy columnist, who doesn’t even bother to fact-check his lede when he writes about a woman who ditches her would-be groom at the altar. Luckily, it leads to him finding true love. Unfortunately, it leaves his credibility as a journalist up for debate.

Life Or Something Like It

Angelina Jolie plays a workaholic, a television reporter working for a Seattle news station. Incidentally, we don’t see the platinum blonde at work all that often—but when we do, her interviewing techniques are entirely unrealistic and condescending. (And by the way, Jolie earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for this one.)

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Posted on March 15, 2014


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