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December 21, 2012updated 03 Jan 2013 4:00pm

The best journalism films – as voted for by Press Gazette readers

By Camilla Turner

Following on from the success of our list of the best journalism books ahead of Christmas, this week we asked our 34,000-plus Twitter followers what their favourite journalism films were.

Once again we received hundreds of responses – here we’ve ranked the top ten in order of popularity among our followers while the remaining 30 titles we picked out are the best of the rest.

1. All the President’s Men (1976)

There were no surprises when it came to the most popular journalism film among our voters: All the President’s Men is an undisputed classic.

This political thriller is based on the book written by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein and captures the tale of the two young journalists and their relentless investigation into the Watergate scandal.Press Gazette follower David Miles said the film showed a “shining example of the imperative of a free and responsible press”. Tom Farmery added that the film “gives me a buzz each time I watch it”.

2. His Girl Friday (1940)

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When hard-boiled editor for The Morning Post, Walter Burns (Cary Grant), learns his ex-wife and former star reporter Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is about to marry bland insurance man Bruce Baldwin, he is determined to sabotage her plans.

His Girl Friday was originally meant to be a screen adaptation of the hit broadway comedy The Front Page, but rather than both the editor and reporter being men, the role of Hildy was changed to a woman for the film.

“Best journo film of all time” wrote Jonny McFarlane. Al Hall added that this is a “classic film and both stars in stunning form”.

3. Ace in the Hole (1951)

Despite being struck down at the time as a “critical and commercial failure” by the biographer of the film’s writer and director Billy Wilder, Ace in the Hole proved a big favorite among our voters.

Kirk Douglas stars as a cynical, disgraced reporter who will stop at nothing to try to regain a job on a major newspaper.

Inspired by real life events, the story is considered to be a searing examination of the press.

4. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

The powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) uses his connections to coerce an unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) into breaking up his sister’s romance with a jazz musician.

The film, directed by Kevin Macdonald, shows the seedy relationship between press agents and the press and the shady deals that go on behind closed doors.

Simon Neville voted for this film, describing it as “terrifyingly accurate”.

5. State of Play (2009)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald, A State of Play is a political thriller set in Washington DC.

The film, which stars Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, is about a team of investigative reporters working alongside a police detective trying to solve the suspicious murder of a congressman’s mistress. State of Play explores themes of journalistic independence and the relationship between politicians and the press.

The 2009 film is an adaptation of the six part BBC television series which aired in 2003, which was also popular among our voters.

6. The Paper (1994)

This comedy-drama, directed by Ron Howard, depicts 24 hours in the life of Henry Hackett, editor of a New York City tabloid.

Hackett (Michael Keaton) is a workaholic who loves his job, but the long hours and low pay getting to him. He is tempted to take up an offer to edit a different paper, deliberating until a hot story forces him into a tough decision.

Iain Hepburn said the film “captures the real buzz of a newsroom in action, and the minutae of small-scale journalism”.  

Farida Zeynalova said it “really encompasses the manic pace of a newsroom”. Dadiv Higgerson added that the film is “cheesy” but “a great film if you love deadlines”.  

7. Citizen Kane (1941)

Directed by and starring Orson Welles, this film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, who is based on newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Regularly voted one of the greatest films of all time, it is told through a series of flashbacks as newsreel reporter scrambles to discover the meaning of the magnate’s dying word: “Rosebud”.

Kevin O’Sullivan voted for this film, saying it is “not just the best journo flick but the best film, ever.”  

8. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

The film is about a young Australian reporter’s attempts to report on the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno.

It is an adaptation from the Christopher Koch’s novel of the same title. Patrick Howse said this film “helped make me want to be a conflict hack”

9. Killing Fields (1984)

Based on the experiences of two journalists, this British film is a violent depiction of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

Its focus is a photographer trapped during tyrant Pol Pot’s “Year Zero” cleansing campaign.

10. Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011)

This documentary chronicles the transformation of the media landscape, showing the complexity of the changes facing journalism today. 

Dave Lee voted for the film, saying it was a “terrific documentary”.


Absence of Malice (1981)

Almost Famous (2000)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Broadcast News (1987)

Defence of the Realm (1986)

Call Northside 777 (1948)

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)

Deadline USA (1952)

Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Frost/Nixon (2008)

Good Night, And Good Luck (2005)

Live from Baghdad (2002)

Network (1976)

Press for Time (1966)

Roman Holiday (1953)

Salvador (1986)

Shattered Glass (2003)

The Bang Bang Club (2010)

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The Front Page (1974)

The Insider (1999)

The Quiet American (2002)

The Rum Diaries (2011)

The War Photographer (2001)

Under Fire (1983)

Veronic Guerin (2003)

Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)

Zodiac (2007)

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