20 journalism-related movies and TV shows

نوشته Donethe Cyprien
Jul 31, 2020 در Miscellaneous
Bowl of popcorn

Everybody’s favorite day of the week: Friday. The end of the work week. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has limited many activities, that doesn't mean we can’t still enjoy the weekend. 

In fact, it's important for journalists to take breaks. Research shows that many journalists suffer from some levels of psychological distress and responses especially during COVID-19. 

To help you kickstart your weekend, here’s a list of journalism-related movies and TV shows for journalists everywhere*. We don’t recommend following in the footsteps of all these journalists –– movies rarely consider journalism ethics –– but we can guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself. 


(1) The Pelican Brief (Hulu) 

Based on the book by John Grisham, a young law student’s legal brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court justices causes her to be targeted by killers. Her only hope is that a Washington investigative reporter will prove her theories correct. This 1993 thriller stars Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington and Sam Shepard. 

(2) Spotlight (Netflix)

The film follows The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, an investigative unit inside the paper. The team investigates allegations against a local priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. The team discovers patterns of systemic abuses, publishing a story that shakes the Catholic Church around the world. The movie is based on a true series of stories by the team, which ultimately earned The Boston Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service under the leadership of editor-in-chief Marty Baron.

(3) Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Amazon) 

Starring Tina Fey and Margot Robbie, the movie focuses on reporter Kim Barker on a dangerous assignment in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Far from home and out of her comfort zone, Barker takes a while to adjust to life in a warzone, but after time, she discovers her strength as a correspondent. This 2016 movie is based on real-life Kim Barker, who detailed her experiences in a memoir, “The Taliban Shuffle.”

(4) The Devil Wears Prada (Amazon) 

Based on a novel written by Lauren Weisberger, the award-winning film follows college journalism graduate Andy Sachs who goes to New York City and lands a job as the assistant for Miranda Priestly, a powerful fashion magazine editor. The 2006 movie has little journalism actually in the film, but it’s such a classic, we had to add it to the list. The list of stars includes Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci. 

[Read more: Journalists around the world share book recommendations]

(5) The Paper (Amazon)

The film follows Henry Hackett, an editor at the fictional paper, The New York Sun, who is facing several serious life challenges and a tempting job offer. The entire movie takes place over a 24-hour period, exploring Hackett’s personal and professional life. The cast includes Michael Keaton, Glenn Close and Robert Duval.

(6) Zodiac (Netflix)

This mystery film follows Robert Graysmith, a political cartoonist who tries to hunt down the Zodiac killer — a serial murderer who has been sending letters to the San Francisco Chronicle. The real life Zodiac killer case remains one of the most famous unsolved crimes in America. This movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. 

(7) The Post (Hulu)

Based on a true story, Meryl Streep stars as The Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham — the first woman publisher of a major American newspaper. The movie follows The Post on their quest to publish the famous Pentagon Papers about U.S. involvement in Vietnam, a break that increases its reputation as a significant journalistic institution

(8) All the President’s Men (Amazon)

This movie is a political thriller based on the Watergate Scandal, a political scandal in the 1970’s that ultimately led to President Nixon’s resignation. The movie stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, The Washington Post reporters that broke the story. The movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. 

(9) His Girl Friday (Amazon)

Newspaper editor Walter Burns is desperate to win back his ex-wife, reporter Hildy Johnson who is engaged to a new man. Burns convinces Johnson to cover one last story, the execution of a convicted murderer. However, they end up getting entangled in the case. This 1940 black-and-white film stars Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant. 

[Read more: The best of 2019 in investigative podcasts]

(10) Bombshell (Amazon)

Based on another true story, the drama stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie as Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and Kayla Pospisil, anchors at Fox News as they try to expose CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. This 2019 movie was nominated for a number of awards.   

(11) Kill the Messenger (Netflix)

Based on a true story, this movie follows San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb who uncovers secret CIA funding for Nicaraguan rebels through cocaine trafficking. However,  higher powers try to keep him quiet. This 2014 film stars Jeremy Renner. 

(12) Good Night, and Good Luck (Amazon)

This 2005 film is completely in black and white, and is a fictional account of veteran radio and TV journalist Edward R. Murrow as he reports on U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist investigations in Congress. Murrow is played by David Strathairn. The film, directed by George Clooney, was nominated for a number of awards. 

TV Shows

(13) The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

Starring an A-list cast ofJennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell and many others, The Morning Show is a behind-the-scenes look at the world of morning television. The show is currently on its second season, and was recently nominated for 18 Emmys. 

(14) The Newsroom (HBO)

Written by Aaron Sorkin, this HBO drama follows anchor Will McAvoy and his staff at the Atlantis Cable News channel. The show focuses on the personal lives of its characters, as well as professional challenges they encounter along the way. The show ran for three seasons, from 2012-14, starring Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and John Gallagher Jr.  

(15) Sharp Objects (HBO)

Based on the debut novel of the same name by writer Gillian Flynn, best known for “Gone Girl”. This miniseries is a psychological thriller starring Amy Adams as Camille Preaker, a reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate two murders after she is discharged from a psychiatric hospital. 

(16) Being Mary Jane (Amazon) 

A follow-up to the TV movie with the same name, this BET show stars Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Parker, a successful cable news anchor who has everything she wanted, but still feels like something is missing from her life. That’s right — she’s still looking for love.

(17) The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Hulu)

An oldie but a goodie, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a groundbreaking sitcom from the 1970’s starring Mary Tyler Moore. The show is focused on Moore’s personal and professional life as an associate producer at a news station in Minneapolis.

(18) Murphy Brown (Amazon)

This CBS series first aired in 1988 starring Candice Bergen as Murphy Brown, an investigative journalist and news anchor. It was rebooted in 2018, as Brown returns as a single, recovering alcoholic back at the station after rehab. The reboot, however, ended after just one season.

(19) Great News (Netflix)

Being a producer is hard enough, but imagine having your mother as your intern. That is exactly what segment producer Katie Wendelson is going through in this 2017-18 series, which lasted for two seasons. The cast includes Briga Heelan, Andrea Martin, Nicole Ritchie and Adam Campbell.

(20) Sports Night (Amazon)

Also written by Aaron Sorkin, Sports Night is a fictional sports news program that is experiencing financial difficulties and low ratings. The show aired in 1999, and is loosely based on the real ESPN SportsCenter team of Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. The cast includes Josh Charles, Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman.

*We know the shows and movies available on streaming services vary by country. Our recommendations are based on those available in the U.S. at the time of writing. 

Share your favorites on our Instagram and Twitter pages!

Main image CC-licensed by Unsplash via Charles Deluvio.