IJPC Student

Research Papers

Update: 12-2022

Summary of Research Topics
(for abstracts look below)

America's Presstime: How Images Of Baseball Reporters Have Shaped the Perception of Our National Sport and The Profession Of Journalism by Chad Sabadie, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, December, 2004. The image of the baseball sportswriter as presented in film shows that these sportswriters will do whatever it takes to get the story. Sacrifices must be made, but the news must get out to the public. These conflicting images of antagonistic, friendly, arrogant, confident baseball writers have shaped the public's perception of the journalists who write about baseball in print and on the air.

Beauty, Brains and Bylines: Comparing the Female Journalist in the fiction of Sherryl Woods and Sarah Shankman, by Amanda Marie Rossie, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2009. This work examines the image of the female journalist in two series of novels by authors Sherryl Woods and Sarah Shankman. Tracing the image of the female journalist from its historical roots to its appearance in late twentieth-century fiction, this study uses the two main protagonists as a guide. Focusing on major stereotypes like the sob sister, stunt reporter, victim, and “one of the boys,” this work contextualizes her image alongside her real-life popular culture counterparts. Close examinations of the characters’ relationships with men, newsgathering ethics, and publicity they experience as successful female reporters working in a predominately male profession are crucial to the larger picture to which these images contribute. The authors’ attempts at reproducing accurate representations of females within the newsroom and portraying progressive, liberated representations of womanhood are also considered. The final chapter analyzes the series’ raceless Southern settings as both a historical impossibility and the creation of a utopian society that propagates racism without “racists.”

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Journalist in the Movies, by Maya Meinert, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. Hunter S. Thompson created and embodies what is called “Gonzo” journalism, an account of events with the journalist as protagonist telling the story from his experience as opposed to a fly-on-the-wall account of events. The image of the Gonzo journalist in what is deemed Thompson’s fiction is the one most people know today: the drug-addled, paranoid, borderline-psychotic journalist who, despite his outlandishness and blatant disregard for rules, somehow comes up with a story for publication. The Gonzo approach to journalism is obvious in Thompson’s pieces written as articles for news publications. But as popular culture has embraced Thompson’s work and style, Hollywood has adapted some of his work into film.

Cassidy Shaw: Straddling the Line Between Seasoned Crime Reporter and Stereotypical Female Journalist by Alexis Alagem, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern Caifornia, June, 2011. While the authors of the Triple Threat Series create a character that seems like a tough and capable reporter, her strength is undermined by their depictions of her weakness in personal situations and relationships.

Cocktails, Criminals and Cover Stories: Cindy Thomas as a 21st Century Female Journalist in The Women's Murder Club series, by Haley Fox, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, June, 2011. In James Patterson's mystery series titled The Women's Murder Club, Patterson features four female protagonists who are all successful, powerful, career-drivebn women working in male-dominated professions. One of these women, Cindy Thomas, is a young, blonde, up-and-coming journalist who works the crime desk at the San Francisco Chronicle. Cindy is unmarried, fearless and a pioneer in many ways when it comes to being a female reporter. Throughout the nine novels, Cindy challenges many stereotypes of women journalists while embracing many others. Overall, Cindy encapsulates a progressive, modern version of the image of the female journalist in popular culture.

Columnists At War: The Image of Dueling Newspaper Columnists in American Film and Television, by Scott Martindale, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July 2006. Newsrooms are often places of conflict in American films and television, with the biggest and most entertaining fights reserved for two competitive, sparring colleagues. Newspaper columnists, long portrayed in popular culture as sassy, quick-witted journalists, serve as ideal characters for creating tension, arguments and rivalry inside and outside the newsroom. Their dueling is lighthearted, comical and sometimes wildly exaggerated, lending itself well to eventual reconciliation, romance or, at the very least, a love-hate relationship.

The Devil Is in the Details: How The Devil Wears Prada Brands the Image of the Fashion Journalist, by Priscilla Hwang, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2007. Author Lauren Weisberger unveils the glossy and superficial world of fashion magazines through the eyes of Andrea “Andy” Sachs, a serious college graduate who unintentionally ends up working for Miranda Priestley, the terrorizing and powerful editor-in-chief of the fictitious Runway magazine. Miranda makes it her job to make life hell for her employees. Through the course of a year, Andrea finds herself overlooking everything she believes in to please Miranda and becomes the one thing she always despised - a Runway girl.

The Devil Runs Vogue: Miranda Priestly, Anna Wintour and the Demonized Fashion Editor-in-Chief by Gabrielle Ashley Olya, master of arts thesis in journalism, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, June, 2011. This paper examines the portrayal of the female fashion editor-in-chief characters in the movie The Devil Wears Prada and the documentary The September Issue. It compares Miranda Priestly, fictional editor of Runway magazine and Anna Wintour, real-life editor-in-chief of Vogue, and places these two characters in historical context by comparing them to fashion editors-in-chief featured in other movies dating from 1940 to 1989. It also exsamines how these portrayals compared with media portraits of female journalists in general, and the possible effects of these images.

Digging Up Dirt and Reporting Lies: The Image of the Journalist in the Television Series Bones, by Alexandria Yeager, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, June 2011. Corrupt. Pushy. Apathetic. Concerned only about money and getting the story first, the facts second. These are just a few of the descriptions the audience may give journalists after watching how news reporters are portrayed on the television series Bones. Journalists are often seen as obstacles in the effort to successfully solve crimes, usually reporting on facts that later turn out to be untrue. Many times the media are nameless and faceless, just in the background shouting out questions and flashing their cameras. Sometimes journalists aren't even present -- the characters on the show speak negatively about them. They are usually justified for doing so. For the most part, this negative image of journalists continues throughout the show's first five seasons. However, a change in season six occurs when a journalist becomes a recurring character. She is war correspondent Hannah Burley (Katheryn Winnick) and the love interest of one of the main characters.

Etched in Stone: Journalistic Portrayals and the Prevalence of Media in a Town Called Bedrock by Chris W. Pisar, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, June 2011. This article examines the animated, primetime comedy The Flintstonesl and how its portrayal of the news media affects the way people, especially children, view journalists. It looks at the prevalence of the media such as newspapers, radio and television in the series and how this affects how people think the media function in the real world. Using research from all 166 original TV episodes, the author identifies the differences and similarities between the images of the journalist in "A Town Called Bedrock" and their real-world counterparts.

From Carrie to Nico: Female Journalists in Candace Bushnell Novels by Stephanie Wenger, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2010. This work examines the image of the female journalist in five novels by Candace Bushnell. Each novel features a female journalist who struggles to balance her demanding job and private life. This paper explores how the female protagonists in these modern novels differ and the ways in which they fit into the major stereotypes of female journalists. This paper looks at the characters' professional lives, relationships with the opposite sex and moral compasses. It also examines how the protagonists in the novels Sex and the City and Lipstick Jungle differ from their television counterparts. Lastly, this work will look at how Candance Bushnell's images of the journalist fit into larger social theories about women in the media.

Gender Confusion and the Female Journalist: TV Journalist Robin Scherbatsky of How I Met Your Mother by Fatima Rizwan, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2013. The female broadcaster provides one of the most stereotypical images of contemporary journalists in popular culture. Often female journalists are portryed as vivacious, ruthless, and driven individuals who must compete fiercely to survive in a man's profession. Robin Scherbatsky (played by Cobie Smulders) of How I Met Your Mother is depicted as an attractive Canadian journalist with a tomboy past on the highly popular television series. Scherbatsky struggles to break free from covering stereotypical "fluff" stories, a genre that is common to female broadcast journalists. While she maintains a rugged and unemotional facade, she is still very womanly and vulnerable in both her career and personal life. This study examines Scherbatsky's dichotomous character, compre s her image on the series to that of other female journalists in popular culture and analyzes her influence on the current stereotype of female broadcasters.

Giving Everything For One Good Quote: The Turbulent World of Miami Crime Reporter Britt Montero, by Eric Berkowitz, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. In eight novels featuring Miami police reporter Brit Montero, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Edna Buchanan has created an alter ego -- a flawed, driven, lonely woman whose obsessive nature is satisfied only by chasing down Miami’s worst people. Montero has little use for anything that gets in the way of the job, whether it be meddling editors or men that can’t keep her pace. And like Buchanan, Montero is deeply attached to the city of Miami, a place where violence, murder and magic are everyday occurrences.

Going Down to South Park: Reporting the News on Television’s Most Politically and Socially Irreverent Animated Series, by Todd Smilovitz, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. The image of the journalist on South Park is not one to be proud of. Journalists appear on more than half of the episodes in the show’s first nine seasons, but they are mostly purveyors of news that is opinionated, baseless, soft, sentimental, naïve, late-breaking and/or sensationalistic. Behind all of this shallow reporting is a quest by news media for ratings: the profit motive distorts news. The fact that almost all South Park journalism is broadcast news, which naturally tends to focus on sound bites rather than in-depth analysis, only enhances this effect. Whether the image of the journalist on South Park is a reflection of the modern American media, or vice versa, is left unsettled and to the eye of the beholder. Appendix: Additional Images of Journalists in South Park, by Todd Smilovitz is also included.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: How the Television Show Ugly Betty Depicts Fashion Magazine Journalists, by Dawn Temples, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2007. In the flashy, fast-paced world of fashion journalism, Betty Suarez struggles to prove that what’s inside a person is just as important as what they wear. As a budding journalist with a dream job, she exemplifies a fish-out-of-water with her braces, glasses and lack of fashion sense. Determined to work her way up at MODE magazine, Suarez tackles any task she’s given, from picking up laundry to single-handedly orchestrating a celebrity-baby cover shoot. Successful women at MODE are cut-throat and demonstrate many masculine characteristics that female journalists have portrayed in both television and movies of the past. Suarez contemplates throughout the show what sacrifices she’s willing to make to become a successful female journalist and eventually reach her goal of starting her own magazine. Also available: Annotated Appendix of Ugly Betty Episodes.

Hacks, Heels and Hollywood: How Accurately Do Recent Film Portrayals of Women Journalists Reflect the Working World of Their Real-Life Counterparts? by Sarah Herman, a student at Bournemouth University, England, UK studying for a degree in BA (hons) Multi-media journalism.

Hell Hath No Fury Like Two Women in One Room by Gage Smith, Washington and Lee University junior. Instructor: Pam Luecke, 2011. The relationship between a female editor and female reporter is depicted as a difficult one in three fictional accounts of fashion journalists.

Heroes at the Push of a Button: The Image of the Photojournalist in Videogames, by Jake Gaskill, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2007. Videogames are able to offer experiences that are incapable of being duplicated, while at the same time never threatening film’s significance in popular culture. Both media are made stronger by the presence of the other, and because of that, they often employ similar approaches to genre and narrative technique. It is the goal of this discussion to examine the techniques, styles, designs and narrative devices that videogames employ, specifically in games featuring journalists as their heroes, so that we might have a clearer understanding of how videogames are shaping the image of the journalist in popular culture. In a time in history when the credibility of journalists and the news media is threatened regularly, and in a time when rapidly changing technologies are allowing audiences to experience stories in new ways, the potential for a drastic shift in the image of the journalist by way of new technologies, such as next-generation gaming systems, is more possible than ever. In order to get a better understanding of how videogame journalists/heroes relate to other forms of fictional journalists/heroes, we will examine the common characteristics of both heroes and journalists, specifically character design, location and the methods by which hero journalists acquire information, transmit the truth to the public, and ultimately the impact journalists and their stories have on their worlds. These characteristics will also be examined in terms of how they have been defined by movies, videogames, comic books and other media.

How the Image of the Female Hip-Hop Journalist Brought the ’Hood to Mainstream America, by Kimberly Wynne, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June, 2007. The life of a hip-hop journalist seems glamorous. In popular culture, it is portrayed as endless nights of club-hopping, schmoozing with rappers and big-name celebrities, and doing interviews in stretch limousines while drinking bottles of expensive champagne. But this isn’t so, especially for a female hip-hop journalist. In the TV series Living Single which aired from 1993 to 1998 and in the movie Brown Sugar which debuted in movie theaters in 2002, the image of the female hip-hop journalist is turned upside down. Her nights are spent alone, pining away for an unavailable, male best friend who only sees her as his “sister.” To gain credibility in the male-dominated industry of hip-hop, the female reporters trade in their femininity for baseball caps, baggy jeans, and sneakers. They are the constant subject of sexual advances and male chauvinism—a chauvinism that women in hip-hop call standard in a musical genre where women are objectified and treated as shiny, new accessories to be hung like jewelry from a performer’s neck.

The Image of the Journalist and the News Media in the Feature Films Directed by Steven Spielberg, by Melissa Farrar, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2007. Steven Spielberg, one of Hollywood’s most recognizable names, has directed numerous blockbuster films during a career that spans over three decades. The topics of his films range from the adventures of a boy and his extra-terrestrial buddy to the Holocaust. Somehow amid the variety of these cinematic worlds, journalists or news media find their way into the majority of Spielberg’s films. Most often, journalists and news crews play bit parts in Spielberg’s films. However, when looked upon as a whole, they most consistently serve as commentators on important situations within the films, and are there to provide the audience and characters with vital information. The images of journalists and news media in his films are particularly notable because of Spielberg’s reach as a director. What he puts onto film is seen by millions around the world, and an audiences’ perception of journalists and news media is no doubt affected by Spielberg’s representations of them.

The Image of the Journalist in Brazilian Film and Television by Regina Maria de Sousa Dias SoaresUniversity CenterFortaleza, Ceará, Brazil, December 2022. , This is a qualitative and quantitative study of the representations of the journalist in Brazilian films, soap operas and television news. The study shows that journalists appearing on news programs, soap operas and films are generally positive (more than 53 percent) with about 16 percent negative. As the author writes, “We can conclude that although there are negative portrayals of journalists in films and soap operas, they are not usually the main characters. Through the analyzes carried out, we can also say that these secondary characters are mostly men and of white ethnicity. As in most popular culture, paparazzi and tabloid reporters often provide the worst images of the journalist.“

The Image of the Local Television News Anchor in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burguny, by Emily Nerland, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2008. The local television news anchor is one of the most satirized images of the journalist. Many sitcoms and movies poke fun at a self-obsessed, good-looking but not-so-smart image of the anchor. It becomes difficult for a viewer to distinguish between a fiction and reality because both images are often presented through the same medium-- television. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy focuses on a time when local news reigned supreme and the “happy news” was the status quo. The film echoes a popular representation of a pretty-boy, buffoon lead anchor, as embodied by Ron Burgundy. Burgundy is an effective parody similar to Ted Baxter in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It also parodies local TV news, sports, weather, and field reporters. Even though the film is set in the ‘70s, the images it creates still exist in people’s concept of news anchors today.

Image Versus Reality: Women Journalists in Film and on the Home Front, 1940-1945, by Emily Lerner, an undergraduate seniors honor thesis done for History 492, Professor Lois Banner, at the University of Southern California, May 2, 2006. Journalism is often stereotyped as a man’s profession, not fit for women. This assumption, however, could not be further from the truth. While men may have founded newspapers and held management positions earlier than women, this is no indication that women were not—and are not—prominent within the profession. In fact, women have been working on newspapers alongside men since the beginning of the appearance of broadsides and other circulars, and in the United States at least since the colonial era. Especially during World War II, as men went off to war, women filled in, working every newspaper job from producing the paper to reporting on events and writing editorials. This senior honors thesis focuses on the issue of the involvement of women in journalism during World War II. Much writing has been produced on women’s entry into professions like medicine and law as men went to war and left many positions open in these fields. Yet despite the acknowledgement by historians of journalism that the numbers of women in journalism did expand in this era explorations of the details of their involvement is sparse. Many of the studies of women journalists in World War II focus mostly on foreign correspondents during the war, spending little time discussing the role of women running newspapers or working for them on the home front.

In Your Face: La Dolce Vita and the Unleashing of Paparazzi, by Natalie Finn, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, December, 2004. Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1960 both coined the term “paparazzi” and ensured that those tabloid photographers who specialize in celebrity news will forever be known in derogatory terms. The animalistic, parasitic portrait Fellini painted laid the foundation for the 2004 film Paparazzi to skewer and roast their image.

The Invisible Journalist: Understanding the Role of the Documentary Filmmaker as Portrayed in The Office by Massiel Bobadilla, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern Califronia, June, 2011. This study aims to shed light on the enigmatic "mockumentary" filmmaker of The Office by using specific examples from the show's first six seasons to understand how the filmmaker is impacted by and impacts concepts of journalism and the invasion of privacy. Similarly, the filmmaker in the American version of The Office will not only be compared and contrasted to the role of the filmmaker in the British version, but also will be compared to the anthropologic enthnographer, an "outsider" attempting to capture life as faithfully as possible in a community to which he/she does not belong.

It Must Be the Weather: The Image of Broadcaster Nancy Hicks-Gribble by Jennifer Whalen, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, June, 2011. Examines the image of the journalist in popular culture by using Nancy Hicks-Gribble's weather girl character in the TV animated series King of the Hill. The public sees weather girls through the inherent inaccuracies of weather forecasts and tight skimpy clothing as mindless sex objects in front of the a TV camera. Weather girls relay important information about the weather. If they are not viewed as professionals, that attitude could cause serious consequences for the public.

Jack McEvoy: From His Rise to Fame to the End of His Game by Jessika Walsten, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2010. This work examines the journalist Jack McEvoy as he appears in four of author Michael Connelly's novels, but is the main protagonist in only two books, The Poet and The Scarecrow. In these two novels, McEvoy's circumstnaces change, but he maintains some of the same journalistic characteristics. For this paper, McEvoy's circumstances and characteristics will be compared with other images of the journalist in popular culture to determine what role McEvoy plays in the journalist's image as whole.

A Journalist in the Rough: How Reporter Eve Diamond Blurs the Line Between Professional Standards and Personal Life All in Pursuit of a Story, by Amanda Pazornik, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. Denise Hamilton, former Los Angeles Times reporter and author of the five-part mystery series featuring Eve Diamond, says Eve is her wilder alter ego. “She dodges more bullets than I ever did as a reporter, collars more bad guys and alas, saves more innocent people than I ever did.” Eve Diamond has three basic goals as a reporter: “I would break stories, get noticed and work my way up the ranks.” As she goes about reporting and solving mysteries, she mimics the earliest female journalists in film in the 20th century and this analysis shows how and why.

Journalism in the Spotlight: An Analysis of Hollywood's Portrayal of the Journalist in American Films by Merri Markita Shaffer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Tennessee Honors Thesis Projects

Journalistic Reality as Material for Hollywood: Comments on Investigative Journalism in Film, by Cordula Nitsch, University of Augsburg, Germany, 2005. An investigation of two American films, All the President's Men and Veronica Guerin. If anyone chooses to enter journalism because of their fascination with journalistic film heroes, they will probably be quite disappointed with the outcome. The average journalist’s life is hardly as varied, exciting and dangerous as the one shown in these movies.

Knowing Good Sex Pays Off: The Image of the Journalist as a Famous, Exciting and Chic Sex Columnist Named Carrie Bradshaw in HBO’s Sex and the City, by Bibi Wardak, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2007. The sex columnist for the New York Star is unmarried, career-oriented and unsure if she will ever have a traditional family. Just like other modern sob sisters, she is romantically unfulfilled and has sacrificed aspects of her personal life for professional success. Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker in HBO’s hit television show Sex and the City (1998-2004) portrays a stereotypical image of female journalists found in television and film. She and other female journalists in the series struggle to balance a successful career and satisfying romantic life. The series examined the fast-paced lives of Bradshaw and friends Samantha Jones (a public relations executive played by Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York (an art gallery director played by Kristin Davis), and Miranda Hobbes (an attorney played by Cynthia Nixon). The four friends gossip about awful encounters with men, and their experiences inspire Bradshaw to write a new column during each episode where she asks questions about relationships.

Law & Disorder: The Image of the Journalist in the Television's Law & Order Series, by Caley K. Cook, a thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate School at the University of Southern California in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts (Print Journalism), 2007. There isn't much to like about most of the journalists in the Law & Order version of New York City. Manipulative journalists abuse the power of the press and rarely repent their sins. Anonymous journalists populate the show with hordes of cameras, microphones and flashbulbs. The easy manipulation of media -- tricking the press into reporting untruths or publicity students -- is common. Law & Order even forces a discussion of journalistic ethics and traditions. With only a few watchdog journalists in the storylines, many of these journalists aren't very likable. Some star reporters do shine through, breaking important stories, protecting their sources or pursuing a crooked cop, but those instances are few and far between. In a show that bills itself as "ripped from the headlines," the audience may be balancing its opinions of journalists on a show that has trouble drawing a line between fact and fiction.

Lou Grant: A Journalist's Journalist -- An Analysis of the Character Who Spanned Two Successful Television Series and Became a Hero to a Generation of Real-Life Journalists and Would-Be Journalists, by Debra Marisa Greene, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. Lou Grant is depicted as a gruff and, at times, bad-tempered journalist. But beneath this rough exterior lies a compassionate man. He greatly cares for his colleagues and, especially, for journalism itself. As news director of WJM and later city editor of the Los Angeles Tribune, he is a journalist committed to his field. Grant is a heroic journalist, always striving for the highest standards of journalistic ethics. Also included is a bibliography and episode summary of Lou Grant as featured in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant.

A Man Woman and a Playboy Bunny: True-Story Films of Two Female Undercover Reporters Breaking Ground, by Jessica Selva, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, 2008. Public scrutiny of undercover journalism has grown in recent decades because of its use of questionable reporting tactics, such as lying, stealing and trespassing. However, films continue to portray undercover journalists as heroes whose acts of deception are excused in the name of the public interest. Two films, The Adventures of Nellie Bly and A Bunny’s Tale, tell the true stories of journalists Nellie Bly and Gloria Steinem, who made groundbreaking advances for undercover and female journalists. The films make their own groundbreaking advances as they present characters that reach beyond stereotypical images of the female journalists in movies.

Married…With Journalists: How Married…With Children Exposes the Dark Side of the Broadcast Media, by Jonathan Horn, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, 2007. Married…With Children was an equal opportunity offender. That is, it gave the same unflattering treatment to the news media as it did to the Bundys. Journalism is shown as sensationalist, shallow and only concerned about ratings. Stories of triumph and honor are passed over for those of sexual abuse, failure and human tragedy. Journalists themselves are portrayed as pawns in a larger scheme of making money in spite of the public interest. Female journalists are viewed as either token women or those who sleep their way to the top. Those who are both women and a minority are only given the trivial, puffy stories. All the while, their less intelligent but better-looking colleagues get the glory at the anchor desk.

The McNeal Perspective: Newsradio’s Most Lovable Egomanic, by Jean-Luc Renault, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, 2008. NewsRadio's Bill McNeal is a pompous, overpaid, coddled and self-absorbed radio anchor who manipulates his co-workers into doing what he wants them to do. He has little work ethic compared with other members of the station's staff, but receives the highest salary. He is also inept at writing stories and editorials and relies on others to do that for him. The few times he tries to write his own editorials, they are in poor taste, ill informed or just downright idiotic. In short, he lives up to what NewsRadio's viewers might expect from a fictional news anchor. McNeal is a radio host, but his behavior is best explained by looking at fictional television anchors because he displays many of the same characteristics. McNeal differs from other anchors in film and television because his raging egomania is an obvious mask for many latent psychological wounds inflicted during his traumatic upbringing.

Modern Portrayals of Journalism in Film by Alexa Milan, Senior majoring in Journalism at Elon University, The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communciations, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 2010, pp. 46-57. As the journalism professor has evolved, so has the portrayal of journalism onscreen. Based on trends in past journalism films explored by scholars and research about current trends in the industry, it is hypothesized that journalism films released in the past five years fall under three categories: films about current media trends, nostalgic films about media history and films about media ethics issues.

Moonlighting as a Gutsy Gumshoe: The Bailey Weggins Story, by Lawrence Lloyd, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. In Kate White’s novels, Bailey Weggins is not a trailblazing journalist who focuses on solving crimes. In each of White’s novels, Bailey “happens” to be at the center of each murder – either because she knows the victim or is close to the people involved. Bailey views journalism as her occupation and window into human behavior; sleuthing is secondary. The journalists in these books aren’t particularly compassionate or hateful, but human. 

The Newsroom's Toy Department: The Different Images of Sports Journalists in Films by David Sobieraj, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2010.  Sports are major part of pop culture. Sports is not just games that athletes play. They are a way of life. The roles that sportswriters and broadcasters play in the movies are a microcosm of the roles they play in real life. Most movies that include sportswriters as characters portray them as a myriad of anonymous fictional journalists who act more like paparazzi than news reporters. These characters flash cameras and yell out questions to sports stars. When real-life journalists portray themselves in bit-part roles, they are sometimes portrayed as caricatures, mocking the role of sportscasting as well as themselves. In contrast, actors who portray real-life well-known journalists and actors who play fictional sports journalists in major roles in a film take on the role of sportscasters who believe their job is to inform the public about star athletes. Moreover, the manner in which women sportswriters are dpicted in films reflects the manner in which they are viewed in the real world. In summary, the journalists that cover sports in movies portray the same roles that they take on in the real world. Some are just paparazzi looking for the latest dirt on well-known athletes. Some don't take themselves seriously and see their job as more entertainment than hard news. Finally, some do see their role as investigative journalists who bring to light important information on the star athletes that they cover.

No Respeck: Sacha Baron Cohen’s Trio of Broadcast Journalists by Susannah Snider, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2010.  This work examines the characters Ali G, Borat and Brüno, the three broadcast journalists played by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.  Discussing the three over-the-top personas and the stereotypes they embrace will reveal preconceptions viewers have about different kinds of broadcast journalists, from the foreign correspondent to the fashion reporter.  Using the details of Cohen’s newsgathering technique and the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, this piece will discuss the ethics behind Cohen’s approach to journalism.  The work focuses on comedy’s current role in shaping the image of the television reporter and how comedians and legitimate reporters have become more alike in their attitudes and methods.  This article shows how Cohen’s particular brand of performance art—melding documentary, mockumentary, comedy, newsgathering, and performance—creates an image of the broadcast journalist that bleeds into real life. 

On The Shoulders of Giants: How Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night Portrayed the Sports Journalist as a Modern, Educated Professional While Still Fitting the Classic Molds of Journalists in Popular Culture, by Eric Alvarez, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, June 2007. Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night focuses on the events that unfold in the newsroom of a nightly sports highlight show. The impulse of the series stems from the relationships amongst the show’s two anchors, three producers and its managing editor. As individuals, the journalists are smart, talented and dedicated in their professional lives. Yet, despite their capabilities and professionalism, each echoes characteristics and faces problems similar to those of journalists in classic popular culture. They often put the job over their personal lives and struggle when faced with the consequences. But in the end, they always tend to band together as a newsroom family.

Playing Dirty: Analyzing the Images of the Tabloid Journalists in the Complete First Season of the FX Network Series "Dirt," by Jaclyn Suzanne Emerick, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, 2009. The FX Network original series Dirt is one of the most comprehensive representations of tabloid journalism on television to date. Although the series only aired for one and a half seasons, examining and understanding the images of the tabloid journalists in Dirt is necessary because the relationship between the public and real-life tabloid journalists is hostile and angry. While a fraction of what the public thinks about journalists comes from real-life experiences with tabloid publications and journalists, part of what the public thinks about these journalists comes from the images they see on television programs like Dirt—images that ultimately reinforce the tabloid journalist as corrupt, unfair, unethical, and amoral. Although tabloid journalists had a presence in film and television prior to Dirt, the FX series demonstrates an in-depth portrayal of the competitive field of tabloid journalism while reinforcing the idea that getting the story is the ultimate goal.

Playing with Fire: Journalistic Ethics in the Millennium Novels by Katie Schaufelberger, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2010.The first two novels of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy examine moral extremes and shades of gray that surround the role of the journalist. Larsson looks at the question of how far a journalist should go for justice and answers it: as far as necessary, even so far that he or she becomes part of the story. The paper wexamines how his characters, the classic but unlikely detective Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, take on the dark sides of Swedish society over and over: the exploitation of and violence towards women, the immorality of big business, neo-Nazi groups, and other investigative journalists gone wrong. The paper shows how this activist model has been inserted in other popular and well-known representations of the journalist.

Popular Portrayals of Journalists and their Personal Lives: Finding the Balance Between Love and the "Scoop," by Jessica Strait, Washington and Lee University senior. Instructor: Pam Luecke, 2011. Fictional journalists are routinely portrayed as having complicated personal relationships. The character must choose between a professional or personal sacrifice -- especially if she is a woman.

Quite Frankly Family Guy: The Image of the Journalist in Fox’s Popular Animated Series, by Matt Ryan, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. Journalism as depicted in the highly popular animated television show, Family Guy, is humorous but often unethical, racial and sensational. News in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island, is mostly delivered through the local television station, Quahog Channel 5 News, where anchors Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons are the most recognizable characters.

The Scoop on The Simpsons: Journalism in U.S. Television’s Longest Running Prime-Time Animated Series, by Stephanie Woo, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, December, 2004. Journalism as depicted in the popular and long-running television program, The Simpsons, is often dumb, unethical and sensational. News in Springfield is easy to create and manipulate, but some journalists use the media to both entertain and help the public. Kent Brockman,, a vain, buffoonish television news anchor, is the most recognizable member of the sitcom's press corps.

Seducing the Nation: Claudia Jean C.J. Cregg as White House Secretary on The West Wing, by Catherine Cronenberg, Master of Arts Journalism Thesis, USC Annenberg, 2011. Women have long faced professional discrimination in traditionally male fields, and the White House press secretary is no exception. As tghe role of women evolves in American society, it is important to examine the strides females are making in various areas. One crucial area of study is the image in popular culture of public relations practitioners, specifically the White House press secretary because of the enormous power and voice that accompanies the position. The portrayal of fictitious women in these roles has implications in shaping society's views of those professional women in real life. Studying the causes and effects of discrimination may lead to potential solutions for greater societal problems.

Seen Better Days: The Portrayal of Journalists in Carl Hiaasen Novels, by Cortney Fielding, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, July, 2006. The lead reporters in four Carl Hiaasen mystery novels are all good guys who’ve made bad decisions. While they all have different demons to battle, Hiaasen uses similarities within their personalities and story lines to paint a consistent image of a lonely and imperfect, but honest and capable journalist whose conscience compels him to do the right thing. Above all, Hiaasen’s reporters have a respect for their trade that won’t let them walk away from its ideals when they walk out of the newsroom.

She’d Kill To Be Famous: Deconstructing the Image of the Female Journalist in the Film and Novel To Die For, by Courtney Kabot, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, 2007. As Suzanne Stone puts it, “You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what's the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody's watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.” All she wanted was a little attention. But aspiring television reporter Suzanne Stone got much more. Joyce Maynard’s novel To Die For, which was adapted into the Gus Van Sant movie, is a satire of television, journalists, and the price of fame. The protagonist Suzanne Stone is twenty-five years old, married, and has always dreamt of a career on television. But when she finds herself at a dead-end weather girl job at a local cable station, Stone decides to take matters into her own hands to make sure she gets her fame.

Smallville: The Mythology of Perry White, by Junelle Mallari, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, December, 2004. Daily Planet editor Perry White emerged as a brusque, sharp-tongued character in 1940 and has remained so into the 21st century with the WB's television program, Smallville. This article looks at Perry White's images in the comics, radio, cartoons, movie serials, films and television from the last 65 years and reconciles them with the most recent image of White as depicted in a Smallville episode.

State of Play: An Analysis of the Image of the Journalist in the Hollywood Movie and the British Television Series by Mohammed Rhaman, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, May, 2010. This work analyzes the image of the journalist presented in State of Play, the British miniseries by Paul Abbott as well as the cinematic adaptation directed by Kevin Macdonald. Through a study of the various journalists portrayed, this paper deconstructs the standard representations of journalists in film and television, analyzing each journalist biographically as well as each journalistic act. This study will conclusively examine what Abbott's overall image of the journalist was and how that concurred or differed in the film version. That image presented in State of Play is compared and contrasted with the previous and current images of journalists in popular culture. The paper ultimately concludes that the image in the film and miniseries is in line with previous images of journalists with just a few differences and updates.

The Stringer, by Joshua Talley, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, December, 2004. Part watchdog, part underdog, Jack McMorrow proves one tenacious son of a bitch when tailing a story. The protagonist of Gerry Boyle's mystery series brings to backwoods Maine a nose for news honed on New York City's streets. Mystery aficionados will recognize hints of Marlowe and McGee in this investigative journalist -- a fascinating image of the journalist in popular culture.

Trenchcoats Are Not Just For Spies: How Journalists Fought Against Evil in World War II as Portrayed by Novelist Alan Furst, by Yael Swerdlow, graduate student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California The inner life of a journalist is required by the ethics of the trade to stay hidden. Timeless debate over whether or not a reporter can be balanced, fair and objective stems from accusations that a journalist is unable to set aside who they are, and what they believe in to do their jobs as trusted members of the Fourth Estate. Journalists are expected to witness history, not actively work to change its course. Alan Furst’s novels question that dictum. What happens to the image of the journalist in popular culture when the journalist becomes an active participant in the fight against evil? The hidden life of the journalist then becomes the clandestine life of a spy.

"Whose Side Are You On?" Representations of Journalism of Attachment and Detachment in the Movies, by Graham Fraser, a dissertation in part fulfillment of the regulations for the BA (Hons. Degree in Journalism, Napier University, 2006. The journalism of attachment is an idea from veteran war correspondent Martin Bell, who argues that journalistic objectivity in war is inappropriate and unworkable. With his supporters, he argues for a moral journalism that tries to get closer to the truth. However, his opponents believe that such an adoption of subjective reporting is very dangerous. Fraser looks at the issues of objectivity in war reporting and its particular representation in two Hollywood films, Under Fire, and Salvador. Click here for a Bibliography for Dissertation.