The power of the portrayal of the press

Seeing, for many, is believing.

Authors Matthew C. Ehrlich and Joe Saltzman have taken a look at how we see news gatherers and the news business in television, film, radio, novels, comics, plays, and other media.

In the introduction to their book Heroes and Scoundrels: The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, the Ehrlich and Saltzman write,

Journalists have been ubiquitous characters in popular culture, and those characters are likely to shape people’s impressions of the news media at least as much if not more than the actual press does. . . . popular culture is a powerful tool for thinking about what journalism is and should be.

On television and in the movies we’ve seen depictions of the intrepid truth-seeking reporter who dodges peril and threats to bring the big story to the public. We’ve also seen the ruthless, glory-seeking villain who will cross all ethical boundaries to get a scoop. Rarely do we see the newshound sitting and jotting down notes during a town council meeting.

The authors have also used these examples in their teaching, going right to the source, compiling a video of the wide ethical range of journalistic behavior they’ve seen dramatized.

When it comes to the image of the journalist in popular culture, click on the video below and see for yourself.

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