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The best movies about journalism according to journalists


The movie "Spotlight," took the Oscar for best picture and best original screenplay on Sunday night during the 88th annual Academy Awards.

If you don't already know, the film traces the Boston Globe reporters and editors who investigated the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church. Their work earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize in 2003.

Here at the AJC, where investigative journalism thrives , we can't stand to see a movie featuring our profession without talking about all the other movies ever made about journalism.

So here is some of the chatter from AJC reporters/editors on the best newsroom films ever made.

“Citizen Kane”:

“So accurate that Hearst was able to stomp on the film. Most people think it’s the No. 1 movie of all time, not just the No. 1 journalism movie.”

“Absence of Malice”:

“Fairly realistic, but we don’t like to cite that one because it depicts a journalist totally screwing up.”

which brings us to...

“One of my least favorites. The unethical and slipshod behavior that passes for journalism in that movie is not recognizable for a respectable news outlet.”

“Deadline USA”:

“My fave. It’s about a family selling a newspaper to a competitor and the (managing editor’s) fight to save it. Humphrey Bogart gives a passionate speech to the owners that borrowed liberally from Joseph Pulitzer’s 1908 Platform that I walked by daily for 20 years pasted in bronze letters in the lobby of the Post-Dispatch.”

And another perspective on passion:

“One of my favorite lines was from his estranged/ex-wife; ‘If that newspaper had legs you would have married it.’ Captured the passion for the business that so many of us feel.”


“I love all the Daily Planet scenes in the first Superman movie. It has that buzzy 1940s-era vibe where everyone’s a fast talker and a wiseguy.”

One particularly astute AJC reporter had this to say:

"The best movies (about journalism) aren’t necessarily the most accurate movies. “Fletch” and “State of Play” are both great movies that can get you pumped up to do good journalism. “State of Play” doesn’t exactly portray a typical day at the office. As for “Fletch,” investigative reporters don’t get to wear disguises, use fake names, sleep with sources or openly mock people they’re interviewing. By far the most accurate portrayals of reporting I’ve ever seen are, in descending order, “Spotlight,” “All the President’s Men,” and “The Paper.”

Other honorable mentions were:

“In Cold Blood”

“Five Star Final”

“Call Northside 777”

“His Girl Friday”

“War Photographer”

and last but not least, "Shattered Glass"

Okay...that one is all me, mainly because Hayden Christensen was total hotness even as his character completely self-destructed.

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.