What’s it like in a newsroom? This

I’m occasionally asked what it’s like in a newsroom. I don’t know what it’s like now, but I know what it WAS like, and it was like this:

“The Paper,” directed by Ron Howard in 1994, should be near the top of every top 10 list about newspaper movies. (It’s not.)

This four-minute scene in metro editor Michael Keaton’s office captures the state of play in a newsroom. It has:

  • A half-crazy columnist (Randy Quaid)
  • A cranky executive editor (Robert Duvall)
  • An editor who neglects his spouse (Keaton)
  • That same editor focused on getting the story
  • Reporters busting in to the metro editor’s office, talking passionately about a story
  • A reporter bitching about his chair
  • An assistant looking for who stole her stapler
  • Two reporters bitching about having to share a story
  • The classic line by a journalist about his newspaper: “I don’t read this newspaper.”

And unlike “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight” and “The Post,” “The Paper captures the manic atmosphere, the black humor, and the “get-the-damn-story” drive that permeates newsrooms.

Or, at least, used to.

One thought on “What’s it like in a newsroom? This

  1. When I taught High School Journalism in the 1980s, a big topic was the ethics / responsibility of being a journalist. I was lucky to somehow have access to this movie & would use several scenes with my classes.
    And the drama teacher would use this to show how concurrent / parallel conversations can be successful in drama. 2 other examples can be found in Bus Stop & Look Homeward Angel.
    And you’re right, this gave a more honest insight to a newsroom than other movies.

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