Categorie: Journalism

Ernst Pfauth is co-founder and CEO of The Correspondent. In this section of his personal blog, Ernst shares his observations about the future of journalism.

Read more about Ernst’s ideas for journalism in these four guest articles he wrote for other publications:

  1. Publishing less to give readers more – Harvard’s Nieman Lab
  2. Earn trust by working for (and with) readers – Harvard’s Nieman Lab
  3. Why Subscriptions are the Future of Journalism – Editor & Publisher.
  4. Readers are only getting started – Harvard’s Nieman Lab
  • Journalism movies: 62 must-see movies for journalists (and 6 series)

    I love journalism movies. In 2009 I watched State of Play, a movie about a grumpy old reporter who investigates a billion dollar scandal. He gets some help from a newspaper blogger. The funny situations – ‘I don’t have an opinion, maybe I should read some blogs’ – and the ‘damn fine reporting’ inspired me. They made me realize why I’ve chosen to become a journalist and gave me more energy.

    That’s why I asked on Twitter which journalism movies my Twitter contacts liked. They came up with a great list of journalism movies, which I happily share here. In random order, descriptions by IMDB, links to Amazon Prime Movies & trailers from YouTube. So next time you’re wondering which movie to see, get inspired by these great journalism movies.

    This journalism movies list has been around for twelve years now. I originally posted this article in 2009 and last updated the journalism movies recommendations in January 2023. Do you miss a movie? Let me know through email ( or Twitter (I’m @ejpfauth).

    Here are the journalism movies, in random order!

    The 62 best journalism movies

    1. Absence of Malice (1981)

    In America can a man be guilty until proven innocent?

    When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of an union head, the man’s life begins to unravel. (6.9 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    2. True Crime (1999)

    A nail-biting thriller

    Can an over-the-hill journalist uncover the evidence that can prove a death row inmate’s innocence just hours before his execution? (6,6 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    3. All The President’s Men (1976)

    At times it looked like it might cost them their jobs, their reputations, and maybe even their lives.

    Reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation (8.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    I started the discussion with this movie. 

    4. Parallax View (1974)

    There is no conspiracy. Just twelve people dead.

    An ambitious reporter gets in way-over-his-head trouble while investigating a senator’s assassination which leads to a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation behind every event in the worlds headlines (7.4 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer

    5. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

    MYSTERY IN WHISPERS that cracks like THUNDER!

    On the eve of WW2, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London (7.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer, who suggested a bunch of journalism movies – thanks Albert!

    6. Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

    A Love Caught In The Fire Of Revolution

    A young Australian reporter tries to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno with the help of a diminutive photographer (7.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer

    7. Killing Fields (1984)

    He was a reporter for the New York Times whose coverage of the Cambodian War would win him a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. But the friend who made it possible was half the world away with his life in great danger… This is the story of war and friendship, the anguish of a country and of one man’s will to live.

    A photographer is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot’s bloody “Year Zero” cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million “undesirable” civilians (8.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer

    8. Professione: reporter (1975)

    I used to be somebody else…but I traded myself in.

    A frustrated war correspondent, unable to find the war he’s been asked to cover, takes the risky path of co-opting the I.D. of a dead arms dealer acquaintance (7.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer

    9. Citizen Kane (1941)

    365 days in the making – and every minute of it an exciting NEW thrill for you !

    Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance (8.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer & Jan-Albert Hootsen

    10. The Insider (1999)

    Warning: Exposing the Truth May Be Hazardous

    A research chemist comes under personal and professional attack when he decides to appear in a “60 Minutes” expose on Big Tobacco (8.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Jan-Albert Hootsen, who sent me multiple journalism movies recommendations. Thanks!

    11. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

    We will not walk in fear of one another.

    Broadcast journalist ‘Edward R. Murrow (I)’ looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy (7.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Arjo

    12. Shattered Glass (2003)

    Read between the lies.

    The true story of a young journalist who fell from grace when it was found he had fabricated over half of his articles (7.5 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Arjo & Jan-Albert Hootsen

    13. Infamous (2006)

    There’s more to the story than you know

    While researching his book In Cold Blood, writer Truman Capote develops a close relationship with convicted murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith (7.2 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Arjo

    14. Control Room (2004)

    Different channels. Different truths.

    A documentary on perception of the United States’s war with Iraq, with an emphasis on Al Jazeera’s coverage (7.8 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Arjo

    15. Runaway Jury (2003)

    Trials are too important to be decided by juries.

    A juror on the inside and a woman on the outside manipulate a court trial involving a major gun manufacturer (7.1 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Steven van Vessum

    16. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

    Based on a true story. You think we could make all this up?

    A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects (7.4 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Steven van Vessum

    17. Final Edition (2007)

    After 149 years and 311 days, the Rocky Mountain News published its final edition on February 27, 2009.

    Read the story on the website of The Rocky Mountain News. Below is the whole (!) movie.
    Suggestion by Joris van Meel

    18. Wag the Dog (1997)

    A Hollywood producer. A Washington spin-doctor. When they get together, they can make you believe anything.

    Before elections, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to “fabricate” a war in order to cover-up a presidential sex scandal (7.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by @jack_nl

    19. Frost/ Nixon (2008)

    400 million people were waiting for the truth.

    A dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon (8.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by: Jelte Nieuwenhuis & David Noël

    20. A Mighty Heart (2007)

    It was an event that shocked the world. This is the story you haven’t heard.

    Mariane Pearl embarks on a frantic search to locate her journalist husband, Daniel, when he goes missing in Pakistan (6.8 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Jan-Albert Hootsen

    21. État de Siège (1972)

    A film about a journalist’s inquiry into the Uruguayan junta

    In Uruguay in the early 1970s, an official of the US Agency for International Development (a group used as a front for training foreign police in counterinsurgency methods) is kidnapped by a group of urban guerillas (7.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Jan-Albert Hootsen

    22. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

    Give us your brain for two hours and you will never be the same again…..(Icelandic)

    An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychadelic escapades (7.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Henriëtte Klijnstra & Arjo

    23. Syriana (2005)

    Everything is connected

    A politically-charged epic about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it (7.1 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by David Veneman

    24. Capote (2005)

    Truman Capote (Hoffman), during his research for his book In Cold Blood, an account of the murder of a Kansas family, the writer develops a close relationship with Perry Smith, one of the killers (7.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Jan-Albert Hootsen & Arjo

    25. State of Play (2009)

    Find The Truth

    A team of investigative reporters work alongside a police detective to try to solve the murder of a congressman’s mistress (7.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    This movie gave me the idea of making this list

    26. Almost famous (2000)

    Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don’t fall for it.

    A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies it on their concert tour (8.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Albert Nijmeijer

    27. Live from Baghdad (2002)

    The Gulf War, 1991. No story is worth dying for – but this was the story of a lifetime

    A group of CNN reporters wrestle with journalistic ethics and the life-and-death perils of reporting during the Gulf War (7.3 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Jan-Albert Hootsen

    28. The Hunting Party (2007)

    How can they find the world’s most wanted war criminal when the C.I.A. can’t? [by actually looking]

    A young journalist, a seasoned cameraman and a discredited war correspondent embark on an unauthorized mission to find the no. 1 war criminal in Bosnia; they find themselves in serious jeopardy when they are mistaken as a CIA hit squad and their target decides to come after them. (7.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Antonie

    29. Harrison’s Flowers (2000)

    Sometimes love is the only proof you need.

    When a Newsweek photojournalist disappears in war-torn Yugoslavia, his wife travels to Europe to find him. (7.2 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Alec

    30. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

    Meet New James Bond

    James Bond heads to stop a media mogul’s plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage. (6.4 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Lorenz

    31. Nothing But the Truth (2008)

    Don’t Reveal the Source

    In Washington, D.C., a female reporter faces a possible jail sentence for outing a CIA agent and refusing to reveal her source. (7.5 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Claire

    32. His Girl Friday (1940)

    She learned about men from him!

    A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying. (8.1 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Boy van Dijk

    33. Brüno (2009)

    Borat was so 2006

    Flamboyant Austrian fashionista Brüno takes his show to America. (6.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Thomas

    34. The Constant Gardener (2005)

    Love. At any cost.

    A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife’s murder, big business, and corporate corruption. (7.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by eyewhypee

    35. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

    His news is bigger than your news

    Ron Burgundy is San Diego’s top rated newsman in the male dominated broadcasting of the 1970’s, but that’s all about to change when a new female employee with ambition to burn arrives in his office. (7.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Zoe

    36. Salvador (1986)

    Based on a true story

    A journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. (7.5 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Peter

    37. Zodiac (2007)

    There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

    A San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer. (7.9 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by joscha & kamisir

    38. La Dolce Vita (1960)

    The Sweet Life

    Journalist and man-about-town Marcello struggles to find his place in the world, torn between the allure of Rome’s elite social scene and the stifling domesticity offered by his girlfriend, all the while searching for a way to become a serious writer. (8.1 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by joscha

    39. Under Fire (1983)

    This wasn’t their war but it was their story…and they wouldn’t let it go!

    Three journalists in a romantic triangle are involved in political intrigue during the last days of the corrupt Somozoa regime in Nicaragua before it falls to a popular revolution in 1979. (7.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Michiel Frackers

    40. The Pelican Brief (1993)

    Two Supreme Court Justices have been assassinated. One lone law student has stumbled upon the truth. An investigative journalist wants her story. Everybody else wants her dead. Two Supreme Court Justices have been assassinated. One lone law student has stumbled upon the truth.

    An investigative journalist wants her story. Everybody else wants her dead. (6.3 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Renato Valdés Olmos

    41. Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)

    Swedish thriller based on Stieg Larsson’s novel about a journalist and a young female hacker. (7.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Pawelotti

    42. Network (1976)

    Not since the dawn of time has America experienced a man like Howard Beale!

    A TV network cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor’s ravings and revelations about the media for their own profit (8.1 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by davidus

    43. Lions for Lambs (2007)

    If you don’t STAND for something, you might FALL for anything

    Injuries sustained by two Army ranger behind enemy lines in Afghanistan set off a sequence of events involving a congressman, a journalist and a professor (6.2 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Peter Engel

    44. Page One (2011)

    Inside the New York Times

    Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity (6.9 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    45. Call Northside 77 (1948)

    Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal re-opens a ten year old murder case.

    (7,4 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    46. Ace in the Hole (1951)

    Treasure seeker trapped in burial vault

    A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus. (8,2 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    47. The Front Page (1974)

    A Billy Wilder Film

    As a tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, an escaped death row convict shows up at the office trying to convey his innocence. (7,3 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    48. Deadline USA (1952)

    A tough newspaperman who fights organized crime

    With his newspaper about to be sold, crusading editor Ed Hutcheson tries to complete an exposé on gangster Rienzi. (7,2 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    49. Broadcast News (1987)

    It’s the story of their lives

    Take two rival TV reporters: one handsome, one talented, both male. Add one producer, female. Mix well and watch the sparks fly. (7,2 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    50. Newsies (1992)

    They found the courage to challenge the powerful!

    A musical based on the New York City newsboy strike of 1899. When young newspaper sellers are exploited beyond reason by their bosses they set out to enact change and are met by the ruthlessness of big business. (6,9 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    51. The Paper (1994)

    A behind-the-lines look at work, marriage and other forms of combat.

    Henry Hackett is the editor of a New York City tabloid. He is a workaholic who loves his job, but the long hours and low pay are leading to discontent. Also, publisher Bernie White faces financial straits, and has hatchetman Alicia Clark, Henry’s nemesis, impose unpopular cutbacks. Henry’s wife Martha, a hugely pregnant former reporter of his, is fed up because he has so little time for his family. He is therefore considering an offer from Paul Bladden to edit a paper like the New York Times, which would mean more money, shorter hours, more respectability…but might also be a bit boring for his tastes. But a hot story soon confronts Henry with tough decisions. (6,5 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by downtownjoe in the comments.
    And Maurits Martijn emailed me this essay about The Paper: ‘The Paper’ is the Most Essential and Overlooked Film About Journalism

    52. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

    The motion picture that will never be forgiven – or forgotten!

    Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister’s romance with a jazz musician. (8,2 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    53. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008)

    The most hilarious comedy of the year

    A British writer struggles to fit in at a high-profile magazine in New York City. (6,5 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    54. Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)

    To get the story, they’ll risk everything!

    Journalist Floyd from US, Michael Henderson from UK and their teams meet the beginning of Bosnian war in Sarajevo. During their reports they find an orphanage run by devoted Mrs. Savic near the front line. Henderson gets so involved in kids’ problems that he decides to take on the children, Emira, illegally back to England. He is assisted by American aid worker Nina. (6,9 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    55. Spotlight (2015)

    Break the story. Break the silence

    Journalism movies: Spotlight
    The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. (8,1 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    56. Nightcrawler (2014)

    When Louis Bloom, a con man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

    (7,9 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    57. Citizenfour (2014)

    A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

    (8,1 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    58. The Bang Bang Club (2010)

    A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.

    (7,0 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    59. Reds (1981)

    A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

    (7,5 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Léa Mallet-Jemming, who is a true journalism movies fan, since she sent me multiple recommendations.

    60. Kill the Messenger (2014)

    Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, who uncovered a CIA drug scandal.

    (7.0 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggestion by Norman Stockwell

    61. True Story (2015)

    When disgraced reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

    (6.3 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    62. The Post (2017)

    A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.

    (7.2 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    There aren’t just great journalism movies, let’s take a look at tv series about journalism as well.

    Those were the journalism movies. Here are 6 tv series about journalism

    1. The Wire, season 5 (2007)

    Read between the lines

    Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers, and law enforcement (9.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Alper Çuğun: ‘In season 5 the focus is on the inner workings and cutbacks at the Baltimore Sun.’ I’d like to add to that: you gotta love Gus!

    Watch The Wire on Amazon
    Editor Augustus ‘Gus’ Haynes in The Wire

    2. State of Play (2003)

    Sometimes you have to read between the lines

    A thriller set in London, in which a politician’s life becomes increasingly complex as his research assistant is found dead on the London Underground and, in a seemingly unrelated incident, a teenage drug dealer is shot dead (8.7 on imdb) – watch the trailer
    Suggested by Tijs Teulings, who sent me multiple journalism movies tips. 

    3. The Newsroom (2012)

    Every story needs a final word

    A newsroom undergoes some changes in its workings and morals as a new team is brought in, bringing unexpected results for its existing news anchor. (8.6 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    4. Good Girls Revolt (2015)

    Journalism movies and series: Good Girls Revolt

    A look at the personal and professional lives of employees at an American news magazine in the late 1960s.

    (8,9 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    Suggestion by Léa Mallet-Jemming: “Set in 1970, it is loosely based on the real story of Newsweek magazine and its female employees, who sued for sex discrimination (only allowing men to become reporters). Sadly the series was cancelled after just one season, despite a very positive reception. And ironically, the decision to cancel was made by a man who now faces allegations of sexual harassment. I am still boiling over.”

    5. The Morning Show (2019)

    An inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the men and women who carry out this daily televised ritual.

    (8,2 on imdb) – watch the trailer

    6. The Vietnam War (2017)

    A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick: A comprehensive history of the United States’ involvement in the bitterly divisive armed conflict in Southeast Asia.

    (9,1 on imdb) – watch the trailer

  • How Beau Willimon writes House of Cards

    ‘Don’t write. Instead, go do something that will make you happy.’

    ‘You’re still here? Congratulations, you’re a writer. You’d crawl through the desert to tell a story’.

    Beau Willimon wrote for theatre for twenty years. Four years ago he had his big break when Netflix purchased two seasons of House of Cards. At SxSW 2015, he gave us some insight on how he writes the episodes. Moreover, he encouraged everyone to keep writing, even though your work isn’t recognized yet. “The important dramatists from a hundred years ago are forgotten. So will you, hundred years from now. But remember, we’re standing on their shoulders. Future writers will be standing on yours.”

  • This is the most impressive documentary about journalism I’ve seen so far

    On this blog, I’ve been collecting movies about journalism (part 1, part 2). Those lists consist of powerful and beautiful films, yet none of them show the importance of journalism as the documentary I heard about this week, called Nero’s Guests (2009).

    It depicts the quest of Indian journalist Palagummi Sainath, who writes about the staggering amount of suicides amongst cotton farmers. In a country where most media just report on celebrities, he fights for getting poverty on the agenda. Not just by writing, but also by giving speeches.

    During the documentary, he gives an impressive speech on inequality and it’s this talk that the film owes its title to.

    Please, find an hour to watch this film. Not just for the sake of journalism, but also for the suffering of Indian farmers.

  • Choire Sicha talks about his favorite book: The Journalist and the Murderer

    Choire Sicha (40) shows the opening line of The Journalist and the Murderer (1990) on his iPhone:

    „Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.”

    The co-founder of The Awl and former editor of Gawker warns the non-fiction work by Janet Malcolm ‘gets darker from there.’

    Janet Malcolm - The Journalist and the Murderer

    „The Journalist and the Murderer is the most influential book for people who do what I do”, says Sicha, „I have a bunch of friends who read it every year.”

    It’s Janet Malcolm’s take on the relationship between an army officer who is thought to be guilty of killing his family and the journalist he hires to guarantee his innocence. The men live together and eventually become friends during the court case in 1979.

    Sicha: „But then, the book comes out and it’s this shocking indictment of how the army officer did kill his family. He was completely betrayed by the journalist and the book cements his reputation as a murderer.”

    Eleven years after the case, Malcolm argued that the journalist hoped to have found his Perry Smith – the murderer in Truman Capote’s notorious novel In Cold Blood (1966) – but soon discovered his subject was actually a very dull man. To save his book, the journalist allegedly decided to accuse the army officer of being a ‘pathological narcissist’ and a murderer.

    „I often profile people for magazines and one of the things I take from Malcolm’s book is being superconscious about what you know and what you assume about your subject. So, if I were to interview you, we would have an engagement, a personal involvement. I’d ask you all these personal questions and then, I could basically betray you and write down my coloured version of everything I thought about you. The book is a reminder about the fact I’m continuously selling people out.”

    Choire Sicha about ’the old puppy dog’ called Gay Talese

    When Sicha first read The Journalist and the Murderer, he wasn’t a journalist yet. „I guess I always wanted to be a writer, but in the US journalism is very much a middle and upper class profession. I didn’t go to college, so I had no way in.”

    But when blogging gained popularity, Sicha zealously adopted the novel medium and soon edited New York’s most popular blog, Gawker. He quit in 2008 to start his own publication, The Awl, where high and low culture are ingeniously combined. Sicha tore down the walls of the journalism establishment and was soon a household name in New York’s media industry. He has never met Malcolm though. „I’ve always wanted to.” But Sicha, who isn’t typically afraid of literary giants – he calls Gay Talese ‘such an old puppy dog’ – admits he’s frightened of Malcolm’s reputation.

    „I’m a huge fan of her writing and read everything by her. She’s interested in psychotherapy and isn’t afraid to talk in a very funny way about her own assumptions, misguidances and blind spots. She values logic highly. In her latest book Iphigenia in Forest Hills (2011), she relentlessly looks at the logic of both parties in a Queens murder case. Together with Joan Didion and Renata Adler, Malcolm forms the pillar of non-fiction.”

    These days, Sicha doesn’t have much time to read books anymore. But when he does, he’s into science fiction. „Even Jennifer Egan plays with science fiction now. It’s not just the losers anymore.” He recommends Ursula Le Guin. Sicha reads from his iPhone. “I’ve always got my library with me, plus, it’s more convenient in bed. At some point I fall asleep and my phone automatically puts itself to sleep as well. No book hits my face.”

    It’s a dude’s world, says Choire Sicha

    So far, Sicha hasn’t recommended any male writers. „I actually almost never read men.” He argues that the women of Malcolm’s generation all had to work three times as hard to get their slots at the magazines and newspapers. „They were actually fundamentally better because they had to work a lot harder ”

    New York still is a place for ‘dudes’, says Sicha. „Most men only read men. If you look at the founders of [New York literary magazine] N+1, they all live in a boy’s society. Chad Harbach, Marco Roth, Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel; all these dudes hang with dudes, publish with dudes and don’t seem comfortable with working with women. It’s becoming less of a guy’s gang, since I think they’re actively trying to break themselves from that habit. But overall it seems hard for straight people to get along in America. There aren’t many places where they’ve learned to talk and hang out as equals. So the guys get all nervous and sweaty, and the women get annoyed. It’s a mess. It’s funny. At The Awl, women write half of the pieces. We’re pretty careful.”

    For all the female writers Choire Sicha mentions, there’s none who is not in her seventies. „There’s a mid-career problem which happens a lot”, says Sicha, „So you’re hot and famous in your twenties and thirties. But when you’re forty through sixty, that’s it for you. Then suddenly in your seventies you’re revered. You have this body of work behind you everyone loves, but in between it’s just toil.”

    Choire Sicha
    Choire Sicha

    ‘Thirty-year’ old blogger working on a book

    Choire Sicha is forty years old, so is he heading towards temporarily obscurity as well? „People think I’m younger. Why would someone who is forty have a job blogging? I just pretend I’m thirty.” It helps Sicha looks merely thirty and his now three-year old blog The Awl gains popularity. Together with co-founder Alex Balk he’s fighting the dumbness of the blogosphere. Hence the ‘be less stupid’ tagline, Spartan layout, small headlines and the odd mixture between 2000-word essays and one sentence posts. „We’ve turned into a business lately”. Their two-room office houses several employees. Sicha, being modest about his success, considers it ‘boring’ and ‘sad’ they’re ‘not just a blog anymore’. He still hacks his own WordPress themes though.

    When Choire Sicha is not blogging, he’s writing a piece of text that will not instantaneously hit the web: a book. „In 2009, I followed a group of four friends around in New York City, to see how they were coping with the crisis.” Reporting, writing and editing cost him a year each. You’ll be able to read it in 2013.

    Sicha remembers his own younger years in New York as ‘amazing and terrible at the same time’. „You have to live off four dollars a day and you’re continuously confronted with how much money everybody else has. Somehow it always seems other people have more opportunities. Then again, New York also gives you things. You’ll be invited to someone’s amazing party and meet the most bizarre people. Then the dark times will subside and you’ll tell everyone the old days in New York were better. Your amazing time will be behind you. 2012 is someone’s amazing time right now. It’s just not mine.”

    📖 Check out The Journalist and the Murderer on Amazon.

    🍿 Finished reading this interview with Choire Sicha? Check out my list of 61 great journalism movies (and 5 series).

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