News anchors are welcomed into millions of homes every day. In the days of Cronkite, Rather, and Jennings, they were sometimes the most trusted people in the country. And, while there are more great movies about their print counterparts, some of the classic American journalism movies are about broadcast news. Here are my favorite five.
1. Good night, and Good Luck
This film is the broadcast equivalent of All the President’s Men, chronicling the efforts of Edward R. Murrow in taking down Sen. Joe McCarthy. Though it is light in some historical areas, it was a critical success with a stellar cast, including David Strathairn (as Murrow), George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., and Jeff Daniels.
2. Broadcast News
This dramedy is considered one of the best insider’s look into the world of broadcast journalism. It’s been universally praised and features standout performances by Holly Hunter and William Hurt. (Jack Nicholson makes a cameo.) The ending is bittersweet, which is part of what makes this far from a romantic workplace comedy.
Though not directly, Network is almost a satire of the serious true-to-life depiction of Broadcast News. It features one of the journalism genre’s most memorable quotes (“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) and it won four Oscars. Many would put this one at the top, I just prefer Broadcast News a bit more.
Another movie about Nixon, although this one focuses on British journalist David Frost’s interviews with Nixon after he resigned amid the Watergate scandal. The stakes are Nixon admitting he did what the whole world knew he did, so for that I found it far less compelling than other Nixon movies.
Though it’s not as much about journalism as … whatever it’s about … Anchorman is endlessly quotable and never fails to make me laugh. It’s cast is a who’s who of comedians (and comediennes), and I wouldn’t put Will Farrell at the top of the list. Most of the movies on these journalism lists have been serious, but I’ve watched and enjoyed this one too much to snub it.
This is the most controversial movie about news gathering I can think of. It depicts the scandal that led to Dan Rather (Robert Redford) retiring from CBS. I did not see any heroes here, despite what the movie wanted me to feel. Nonetheless, it was well made and enjoyable enough to earn an honorable mention.