1:49:00– 165 clips
Produced by Joe Saltzman
Edited by Lee Warner
Hollywood Looks at the News runs one hour and 49 minutes and traces the image of the journalist in movies and television with 165 clips from 1914 to 2005. It is the basic IJPC anthology of movie and television clips covering print and broadcast journalists.
This disc can be used in a variety of ways. It is the perfect introduction to any communications class on the image of the journalist in popular culture. It could be used in any class on media, communication studies or any class discussing the role of the broadcast journalist in film and television or the image of women in film and television.
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The basic image of the journalist from the silent days of the movies to the media-drenched days of the early twenty-first century is that of the flawed hero fighting everyone and anything to get the facts out to the public. The reporter or editor could get away with anything as long as the end result was in the public interest. The journalist could lie, cheat, distort, bribe, betray, or violate any ethical code as long as the journalist exposed corruption, solved a murder, caught a thief, or saved an innocent. Most films about journalism end with the reporter or editor winning the battle, if not the war.
At the same time, the most indelible image may be that of the journalist as scoundrel, as evil, as the worst of villains because these journalists use the precious commodity of public confidence in the press for their own selfish ends. If the journalist uses the power of the media for his or her own personal, political, or financial gain, if the end result is not in the public interest, then no matter what the journalist does, no matter how much he or she struggles with his or her conscience or tries to do the right thing, evil has won out.
Betraying the public trust is one of the great sins in a democracy and whether it is a journalist or a politician who does the dirty deed, it is so despicable that it lingers and festers in the memory. The corrupt media tycoon’s goals and tactics are familiar to everyone, and real-life parallels in modern media abound. That may be the reason so many people are skeptical of the motives of such media billionaires as Rupert Murdoch.
Perhaps the most dominant and damaging image of the journalist in popular culture is that of anonymous reporters chasing after stories. In countless movies, television programs, and novels, they travel in packs, usually armed with television cameras and microphones. They cover fast-breaking news by crowding, yelling, shouting, bullying, and forcing their way into breaking news events. There were always such packs of aggressive print journalists chasing after heroes in movies, and they made a negative impact through the years, but their zeal was usually taken in good spirits. Nowadays, they appear far more menacing and out of control because their lights, cameras, microphones, and tape recorders are jabbed into faces of real people on television news and favorite actors in movies and entertainment television programs.
In the 1930s and 1940s, practically every popular actor eventually portrayed a journalist. By the 1980s, anonymous reporters were chasing popular actors. The audience, as always, identifies with the popular actor. For the most part, audiences now root against reporters who are chasing familiar and friendly faces. It isn't Clark Gable or Barbara Stanwyck chasing after a story. It is now overzealous media newshounds chasing Bruce Willis or Julia Roberts.
This image of a harassing press with no valid reason undermines the public's trust in the news media, conflicting with the fictional image of the reporter as hero. One result is that the public has turned against reporters, concluding that journalists are obnoxious, interested only in their own egos, not the public interest, and that laws should be passed to stop reporters from harassing innocent people – innocent people often translated in the public mind to be a favorite movie or television star.
These conflicting images of the journalist contribute to the love-hate relationship between the public and its news media that is at the center of the public’s confusion about the media today.
The anger and lack of confidence most Americans have in the news media is partly based on real-life examples they have seen and heard. But much of the image of the journalist as a money-grubbing, selfish, arrogant scoundrel is based on images from movies and television. And it is those images burned in the public memory that have turned the phrases, “the people’s right to know,” and “first amendment freedoms,” into sick jokes rather than honored phrases. These images directly affect the public’s opinion and consequently its support of the freedom of the news media.
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The premium DVD is for personal use only and is available only to IJPC Associates. It is not available anywhere else.
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The video includes the following clips: