Being a journalism major is harder than some may think. There’s a lot to worry about: whether your source contacts you back by deadline, if you’ll land the internship in NYC this summer and figuring out how to design a front page. That’s on top of all of the classes you’re taking. It’s stressful, to say the least. So, take a step back and watch other people stress about reporting. You deserve a break. And who knows, it might actually teach you a little something about being a journalist and renew your love for reporting.
Here’s the top 10 movies every journalism major should watch to fall back in love with your major.
1. All the President’s Men (1976)
Begin your journalism movie binge right with the one that started it all: “All the President’s Men” starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. The film tells the true story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their quest to uncover the Watergate scandal. As most journalism majors learn, this was the turning point for reporting as a career. Woodward and Bernstein put investigative journalism on the map when they uncovered the truth behind Nixon’s presidency. Feed off the inspiring tale as you witness the reporters/events that created the world of journalism as it is today.
2. Zodiac (2007)
If “All the President’s Men” peaks your interest, “Zodiac” is right up your alley. The film is set during the 1970s — during the outbreak of the infamous Zodiac killer. Similarly to Woodward and Bernstein’s work, the film proves that journalism and detective work go hand in hand. Robert Graysmith, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a cartoonist for the San Francisco chronicle. When news of the killing spree breaks loose, Graysmith knows that his job has prepared him well and he assists the police in tracking down the killer. Not only will it have you at the edge of your seat, but it’ll make you want to take your degree and track down a serial killer (theoretically, of course). Plus, who wouldn’t love a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo AND Robert Downey Jr.?
3. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Taking a break from the high anxiety of coursework doesn’t necessarily mean you want to jump into heavy movie plots—for some. In this case, you may want to drop some of the more serious journalism movies to watch this classic romantic comedy. “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” really has everything you could ask for from a movie. Girl power, a cute love story and (best of all) a storyline about the magazine industry. Kate Hudson plays a dedicated magazine reporter who puts her personal life on the line for the perfect story. She uses a new relationship for an assignment to prove the 10 “mistakes a woman makes” in a relationship are real. Journalists really will do anything for the best byline.
4. Almost Famous (2000)
Calling all future entertainment reporters: “Almost Famous” is the movie for you. The plot focuses on a 15-year-old boy who lands a job at Rolling Stone as a music reporter. Loosely based on Cameron Crowe’s life as a young reporter, he directed, produced and wrote the film. Students excited about writing about the entertainment industry will find themselves even more prepared to jump right in after watching this 2000s classic. The movie shows how adventurous the life of a journalist can be — though don’t expect to always be flying around with a rock band and their groupies. If the charm and humor of “Almost Famous” doesn’t make you want to watch it, the killer soundtrack will.
5. The Post (2017)
The dream team: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The pair tell another true story in which journalists have to choose between telling the truth for the good of the people or hiding it to save themselves. It runs in the same vein as “All the President’s Men.” The Washington Post must decide whether they should risk their freedom by publishing the Pentagon Papers. It’s not just a good story about the power of great journalists, but it’s also a shining moment for women. Streep plays Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major newspaper in the country. Feminists unite.
6. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
Another reporter movie steeped in history, with the black and white feel to prove it. “Good Night, and Good Luck” stars David Straithairn as Edward R. Murrow, one of the most renowned broadcast journalists of all time. Murrow works to tackle Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist practices which helped characterize the Red Scare. It covers the struggles between reporting sensitive stories against the government’s wishes. The film shows that journalists may be some of the most selfless people alive— they’re always putting their career and life on the line for the good of the people. Broadcast journalism majors can also appreciate the look inside of the camera work through the incredible direction by George Clooney.
7. Nightcrawler (2014)
Apparently, Jake Gyllenhaal makes a great journalist as he plays another reporter in “Nightcrawler.” A thriller that just might keep you up all night; it tackles citizen journalism and unethical reporting. Gyllenhaal’s character, Lou, proves that anyone can pick up a camera to make a story. During the internet age, citizen journalism is one of the best ways to gather information. Make no mistake, there’s always a line that can be crossed when dealing with unprofessional storytellers. The film makes it evident that not everycase should use citizen journalists.
8. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
It’s safe to say that almost every journalism student dreams of moving to the city and landing their dream job. Unfortunately, you’ve gotta’ start at the bottom—even with a college degree. “The Devil Wears Prada” shows that in between phase and shares one important lesson about leaving it: networking. If you haven’t already learned about the power of networking in school, Meryl Streep will teach you a thing or two about it. Andrea (played by Anne Hathaway) doesn’t even want to work in fashion, but she knows that “girls would kill to get this job.” So she sucks up her desk job and tries to make a good name for herself. Networking can have the potential to take a journalist anywhere they want—so start taking some notes.
9. Shattered Glass (2003)
A journalist’s worst nightmare: plagiarized work. That’s all that really needs to be said about this film. Hayden Christiensen (yes, the Star Wars actor) plays a reporter at the New Republic magazine who gets away with creating fake stories for a while. Although the film isn’t as popular as others on the list, it definitely tells a dark side of the industry. Sometimes the pressure to keep up can get real but Christiensen’s role proves that scraping up false content can hurt your reputation more than being behind deadline.
10. Newsies (1992)
Okay, okay. This one isn’t technically about journalism itself, but who doesn’t love a Disney musical? Set in the late 19th century, “Newsies” shares the true story of young boys struggling to sell newspapers on the streets of New York. It offers a glimpse into the business aspects of the newspaper industry. It gives you a little bit of hope—maybe it’s always been tough. What’s great about this movie is that it became an extremely popular Broadway musical. So you get to enjoy twice the music with this story.