For What It's Worth: Journalism films - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
finish your ferris degree in lansing - ferris state university

For What It's Worth: Journalism films

Larry mug

Larry Hook, The Lookout Adviser

Larry Hook

By Larry Hook
Adviser of The Lookout

When I was a student at Michigan State University majoring in journalism in the 1980s, I took a class in which we watched journalism movies each week for 13 weeks and then analyzed them.

It was one of my all-time favorite classes. We watched such classics as “Citizen Kane,” Philadelphia Story,” “All the President's Men” and “Absence of Malice.”

Fast forward to this year, I decided to recreate that class and do it on a much bigger scale. I gathered 50 of the top-rated journalism movies of all time, including those from my MSU class, and watched them chronologically. From April 28 to June 14, I watched all 50 movies in 50 days.

j movies

The oldest movies I watched were “Philadelphia Story” starring James Stewart and “Citizen Kane” starring Orson Welles, both from 1940. The newest was “She Said,” from 2022. I watched movies from nine consecutive decades.

In the process of watching these movies, I learned a whole lot of history. There were journalism movies about Watergate, the Cold War, the Gulf War, Catholic priest sexual abuse, the tobacco industry, the Zodiac killer and the “Me Too” movement. I did a lot of reading about some of these subjects in conjunction with watching the movies.

I also mixed in a few journalism comedies to occasionally lighten the mood over the course of the marathon. These included “Fletch” with Chevy Chase, “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray, and “Anchorman” with Will Ferrell.

I ranked each of the movies on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Nine movies earned perfect scores from me. Two of them were comedies: “Groundhog Day” (1993) and “Anchorman” (2004). The other seven 10s are listed below:

  • “-30-" (1959) – A managing editor, played by Jack Webb of “Dragnet” fame, takes viewers through a day in the life of a daily paper in 1950s Los Angeles. The movie is a great snapshot of journalism in the “old days.”

  • “Perfect” (1985) – A Rolling Stone Magazine reporter, played by John Travolta, travels to a Los Angeles fitness club to write about the ‘80s fitness craze. There he meets a fitness director (Jamie Lee Curtis) and falls in love with her, creating a complicated conflict of interest.

  • “Broadcast News” (1987) – Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks and William Hurt endure the rigors of a television newsroom in the 1980s while also being involved in a tricky love triangle.

  • “The Paper” (1994) – Michael Keaton plays a New York metro newspaper editor and Glenn Close is his managing editor. The two quarrel over whether to publish a monumental story about a potential police coverup. The film features great performances by both actors, and a great storyline!

  • “Shattered Glass” (2003) – This is the true story of a young hotshot reporter named Stephen Glass, who rises to fame with amazing stories but is later found to have fabricated a good majority of his sources. Hayden Christensen stars as the sensationalizing reporter. I especially loved this one because it is based on a true story that I had never heard about before. There are lots of great lessons included for young, rising journalists in today’s world of social media.

  • “The Post” (2017) – Set in 1971, “The Post” is a political thriller based on a true story about a massive coverup of government secrets than spanned three decades and four U.S. presidents. Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, the film features superstars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep as leaders of the Washington Post staff.

  • “She Said” (2022) – This is the true story of a small group of New York Times journalists who brought down Hollywood kingpin Harvey Weinstein for his decades-long sexual abuse of women who worked for him. Carey Mulligan and Zoey Kazan are great as the two relentless young reporters.

For those who are curious, two movies tied for my low scores: “His Girl Friday,” starring Cary Grant from 1940, and “The French Dispatch” from 2021, which has an all-star cast and an incredibly hard-to-follow story from bizarre director Wes Anderson. Both earned scores of 2.



Looking for housing? Visit the official lcc off-campus housing website! Visit
finish your ferris degree in lansing - ferris state university
Back to top