This weekend, hacks around the world will be rooting for Spotlight to clean up at the 2016 Academy Awards. After all, a film about how great journalists are makes us all feel a little more significant as we Google around for gifs. Especially since accurate onscreen depictions of journalists are a rare thing.
For some reason, whenever journos are translated into film or TV they immediately become terrible at their job or unrealistic in some way you wouldn’t even think possible. Journalists like:
April O’Neil – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-96)
We can forgive the fact that April constantly gets away with disobeying her boss or that her TV station doesn’t seem to mind keeping a reporter who spends more days captured by bad guys than in the office. But, what reporter gets the scoop that there are human sized, talking turtles (that also happen to be real life ninjas) and doesn’t run with it?
Bart Simpson – The Simpsons (1989-Present)
When the Flanders take custody of the Simpson kids in the season seven episode ‘Home Sweet Home Diddly-Dum-Doodly’, Bart becomes a reporter for The Flanders Press. Instead of following up the groundbreaking story “Playtime is fun”, Bart files his copy with the headline: “Extra extra: Todd smells”. Are we to believe an institution like The Flanders Press would employ a reporter so willing to break with his publication’s style and tone? He doesn’t even have a reliable source.
Bruce Nolan – Bruce Almighty (2003)
Jim Carrey brings his usual slapstick zaniness to the character Bruce Nolan, a field reporter who God decides to imbue with all his powers (mysterious ways and all that). How does Nolan exploit his newly appointed god-like status to salvage his journalistic career? You guessed it, he summons a meteor shower and reports on it. Ah yes, meteor showers. Just the sordid sort of scandal that journalist careers are built on. This film lost its credibility when Nolan didn’t immediately use his powers to magically do all his transcriptions.
April O’Neil (Again) – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-96)
Oh, we’re not done with April. This may seem a petty point compared with the whole ‘People don’t to want to know about heavily-armed humanoid turtles’ thing but what TV station requires that their reporter always wear a yellow jumpsuit? It doesn’t matter if she’s covering politics, factory closures or roving urban ninja gangs (although again, not the ones that are giant turtles). She literally only ever wears a yellow jumpsuit. And we know it’s a station policy because she later goes freelance and wears normal person clothes. The station head definitely has some issues we don’t wanna know about.
Sidney Young – How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008)
Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) acts as a guide to the ‘don’ts and don’ts’ of journalistic practice. An aspiring journalist who works for a left-wing satirical magazine in England, Sidney manages to let a pig loose at a work party. You know, like we’ve all done. Following his own personal Pig-gate, Sidney is hired by a magazine that is more obsessed with celebrity than anti-capitalist sentiment. Over there he manages to set fire to a co-worker’s book and kill a famous actress’s dog. And yet he keeps his job. As a journalist this is a highly recommended watch, for an ego boost if nothing else.
The NY1 News team – Elf (2003)
What should you do when Santa Claus zooms over New York and you have a fully functioning news crew with cameras and a reporter on the ground, metres away from a sleigh powered by flying reindeer? According to the journalists at NY1 News, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Stand there, keep your camera pointed away from Santa and keep filming the crowd (who, ironically, are singing ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’). Hey idiots, he literally came to town AND YOU MISSED IT.
Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Bumbling Bridget’s journalistic career is defined through a series of farcical situations, her glowing television debut as a TV news reporter involves her ungraciously sliding down a fireman’s pole and planting her hindquarters on the camera and subsequently the nation, in the process. Bridget does go on to bag a hot topic exclusive interview with an asylum seeker courtesy of heartthrob barrister (Colin Firth) though, so silver linings and all that.
Everyone at The Daily Planet – Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000)
The Daily Planet is a successful daily newspaper with a hard-working and determined staff. But come on, you’re a building full of journalists and NONE of you can tell your co-worker is Superman? All he does is put on a pair of glasses. He doesn’t even make the effort to add a trench coat or a fake moustache. The Daily Planet should be shut down and all the staff forced to work in PR.
-By Adam Chapman, Luke Terry and Karl Tomusk