Let me start of by saying that when I went to see State of Play tonight, I was prepared to hate this movie.
I was prepared to come back and write a blog post about how Hollywood over romanticise the journalist in its movies and gives our reading audience a misconception on what we actually do all day. But after seeing the whole thing, there are few negative things I have to say about it.
Some things they got spot on:
  • Most of us have really bad diets. Seriously. We eat what tastes good and give little regard to the calorie count. We also grab food that’s cheap and fast because we’re poor and always on the run.
  • Our lives are in disarray and sometimes, for most of us anyway, our desks, cars, and apartments show it. I’ve only met two, maybe three reporters whose desks, cars, and apartments weren’t like that. They work at it, hard. It’s a conscious effort to pick up their desks. Most of us, however, don’t have nice clean desks. We don’t grow out of it either. It’s been my experience that the longer you’re in the business as a reporter the worse your desk gets. Don’t know about what happens if your promoted to an editor. I think the rules change a bit.
  • There is always a seasoned reporter, usually male, that’s part of the old guard. This guy has the best war stories and the best reporting techniques ever. Those are the reporters I seek out because they didn’t get that good by sitting at their desks. They work their beat and know EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.
  • There is a war between the print folks and the new media/Internet folks. It’s different in every newsroom but there is always some tug of war between them. That’s because its the old guard and the new guard–where newpapering was and what it’s becoming. Where am I in all this? I’ve made my opinion known but I’m probably one of the few journalists who embrace both. I love newprint but know it’s dying. I also think that the principals of newspapering can be applied to blogging. But that’s another blog entry for another day.
  • The thing that was most spot on was my profession’s heroism. Yes, we are heroes without a cape. We defend the first amendment everyday. We challenge it, we protect it, and we shine a light on people who wish to destroy it. What we do everyday is nothing short scaling a tall building. Some might say that firefighters, police officers, and military personnel are heroes. Yes, they are. They give their lives for us. But they’re lucky. They deal with enemies they can see. Journalists deal with things that aren’t easily seen and find things that are lurking under rocks.

Journalists are the walking wounded. We know, see, and hear things that the general public doesn’t. We take that home. We live with that. Everyday. We suffer for it, too. My profession has a high rate of divorce. Health wise we get little sleep, our personal lives happen between stories and not after work, and the stress of the job can be overwhelming. And let’s not get into the low pay, being attacked by our parent companies, and having to answer to editors who have their own pressures to face. It’s a damn thankless job and anyone with any kind of sense will stay out of it.

But then again, there are those that do stay out and those who can’t because it’s what they are built to do.

In case you haven’t noticed, this movie gets a thumbs up from me in the authenticity department. They even caught the fact that editors don’t read stories, but ask you questions about them anyway (Never understood that.). That scene is within the first 20 minutes of the movie. Had to laugh out loud.
So, yeah, go see it. Stay of Play is journalist approved.