The image of journalists in selected contemporary films, 1976-1986
Early films pictured the journalist as basically a likeable character, but times have changed. The press emerged as a powerful institution, and research on press credibility indicates a growing skepticism on the part of the consumer. The image of the journalist in contemporary films has changed, too. An analysis of eleven films from the period 1976 to 1986 revealed four recurring themes. These themes were: 1) reporters will do anything for a story, regardless of ethical considerations; 2) the press is a powerful institution and reporters are often arrogant and abuse that power; 3) reporters can and should remain objective but often do not; and 4) reporters consider their careers more important than interpersonal relationships . Film is thought of as a medium of entertainment, but it is much more. Some researchers suggest that film reflects the attitudes of society. Others believe that film can actually educate the public about subjects with which they are unfamiliar. Whatever the case, it is clear that the negative image of the journalist in film is mirrored in the attitudes of the public. Some possible implications of this are that members of society no longer have a clear understanding of the function of the press as a public service and a watchdog on government. The notion of a free press unhindered by government restrictions is not as valued and may even be in danger. In order to maintain the present system of reportage in this country, the public needs to be aware of the function of the press and how reporters do their j obs . However, it is not the function of film to change the public's image of journalists. Rather, the press itself must undertake to educate society, and perhaps through this process the image of journalists in film will change as well.