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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (I’m @ejpfauth).
Here are the journalism movies, in random order!
The 62 best journalism movies
In America can a man be guilty until proven innocent?
A nail-biting thriller
At times it looked like it might cost them their jobs, their reputations, and maybe even their lives.
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
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!
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
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
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
365 days in the making – and every minute of it an exciting NEW thrill for you !
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!
We will not walk in fear of one another.
Read between the lies.
13. Infamous (2006)
There’s more to the story than you know
Different channels. Different truths.
Trials are too important to be decided by juries.
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
After 149 years and 311 days, the Rocky Mountain News published its final edition on February 27, 2009.
A Hollywood producer. A Washington spin-doctor. When they get together, they can make you believe anything.
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
It was an event that shocked the world. This is the story you haven’t heard.
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
Give us your brain for two hours and you will never be the same again…..(Icelandic)
23. Syriana (2005)
Everything is connected
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
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
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
The Gulf War, 1991. No story is worth dying for – but this was the story of a lifetime
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
Sometimes love is the only proof you need.
Meet New James Bond
Don’t Reveal the Source
She learned about men from him!
33. Brüno (2009)
Borat was so 2006
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
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
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
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
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.
42. Network (1976)
Not since the dawn of time has America experienced a man like Howard Beale!
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
Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal re-opens a ten year old murder case.
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
A Billy Wilder Film
A tough newspaperman who fights organized crime
It’s the story of their lives
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
The motion picture that will never be forgiven – or forgotten!
The most hilarious comedy of the year
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
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
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.
A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.
A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.
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.
Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, who uncovered a CIA drug scandal.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Every story needs a final word
A look at the personal and professional lives of employees at an American news magazine in the late 1960s.
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.
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.