Favorite Fictional Journalism Characters

A couple of months ago, I ran across a post by Amber Avines on her blog, where she listed five great films about journalism.

Ms. Avines’ post struck a chord with me because I’m both a movie geek who happened to study journalism.

Being as it is, it’s fun to see heroes/heroines of the Fourth Estate on the silver screen, mostly because of the dramatic overtones and exaggerated scenarios.

Even the films based on fact have to be inflated a little to add to the theatric experience.

If there was ever a movie based on my experience as a print reporter, it might be kind of boring—scenes of the reporter in front of a computer, the phone interview, driving to and from City Hall, maybe stopping at Starbucks, waiting for the managing editor to stop gabbing with the sports writer so he’ll finally get around to reviewing my story that’s due at 4:00 p.moh, the drama!

Inspired by the films of journalism, I thought it would be fun to list a few of my favorite fictional journalism characters from film (both big screen and little, so there’s more room for the “fictional” term).

Murray Slaughter, News Writer (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)

You’d think a girl from Minneapolis would have picked Mary Tyler Moore. Did you know there’s a statue of her in downtown Minneapolis in front of the department store where she threw her hat in the opening?  I digress…

I always sort of identified with the forever-suffering Murray, who wrote wonderful news copy that Ted Baxter would butcher night after night. I liked Murray because he was the content creator and a writer like I aspired to be one day. Since I never wanted to be in front of the camera, I decided if I went into broadcast, I wanted be the “Murray” behind the scenes instead.

Murphy Brown, Investigative Journalist (Murphy Brown)

Talk about a great fictional role model for young women! I was too young to get most of the social overtones on this program, but I was old enough to recognize that Murphy Brown was a smart, dedicated, and passionate journalist.

Sure, she had a child out of wedlock and couldn’t keep a secretary or seem to finish painting her house, but Murphy Brown symbolized how far women had come in the field of journalism. She could hold her own against the boys club and still show her vulnerability as a mother or as a sympathetic friend to her colleagues.

Hildy Johnson, Reporter (His Girl Friday)

As a huge fan of classic Hollywood films, I fell in love with this movie and its heroine, who attempts to shrug off working as a reporter in favor of marrying away.

Slapstick and stereotypes aside, I liked how the male editor antagonist, the dashing Cary Grant, needed Hildy in order to get a huge scoop. He knew she had the skills and the drive to pursue the story. And Hildy discovers she actually thrives on reporting and investigating stories (and occasionally getting into sticky situations, like this film’s main premise). I guess by getting Cary Grant in the end, she gets the best of both worlds as a wife and a reporter.

Harrison Lloyd, Photojournalist (Harrison’s Flowers)

I’ve always had a deep admiration for war correspondents, perhaps because they endanger their own lives in order to tell a story for others. This film centers on a photojournalist whose life we see through his wife’s journey to find him in the war-torn former Yugoslavia. In doing so, we learn about his dedication to capturing moments in time, as horrific as some may be.

The film also depicts how photojournalists band together in war zones and explains how they do what they do, a topic all too real when photojournalists are injured and even killed in combat zones.

And although he didn’t make the cut, I couldn’t help but include a shout-out to Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman” as probably the funniest portrayal of a fictional television news anchor (no disrespect to Ted Baxter):

So, these are a few of my favorite fictional journalism characters. What about you? Who are your favorite journalism characters in film?

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November 9, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . journalism.


  1. Joshua Brett replied:

    I liked Michael Keaton in “The Paper.”

    But I too also liked Murphy Brown – not just Candace Bergan’s character, but some of the others too.

    • Krista replied:

      I have to put “The Paper” on Netflix– I haven’t watched that since college, I think! And I totally agree– all the characters on Murphy Brown were wonderful and added to the dynamic that made it a great show.

  2. Amber Avines replied:

    Great list of characters, Krista! I loved Murray, too! But, I think Murphy Brown may be my favorite. She was so ahead of her time and a great depiction of a smart, snarky woman in the workplace.

    Thanks for sharing your favorite characters! (And for the link love!)

    • Krista replied:

      Thanks Amber– I have to give you credit for inspiring this post with your list of journalism movies :)

  3. Favorite Real-Life Journalists « PR in Pink replied:

    [...] few months ago, I listed my favorite fictional journalism characters. I had meant to write this follow-up post about my real-life favorite journalists sooner, but I got [...]

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