WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Film Demonstrates the Value of Journalism

Feb 13, 2018

The movie The Post examines the role the Washington Post played in exposing a U.S. government cover-up that spanned several decades and presidencies.  The Post and the New York Times fought the government for the right to publish classified documents, known as The Pentagon Papers, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the newspapers. 

Shop Talk panelists Will Buss and Jasmine Crighton each said they’ve seen the movie twice. Buss said he enjoyed the movie not only because it’s about the news industry but because it’s an intriguing and true story.

Buss said the movie serves to remind the public of the pivotal role journalism plays in the U.S., and that reporters pushed back against the powerful then just as they are today. He also said the key figures were given little time to make tough decisions yet they ended up making the right decisions.

Crighton thinks the movie came out at a great time, given that so many Americans have been convinced to distrust the media. She said the movie serves as a reminder that journalists play an important role in a democracy.

Crighton said she took some of her WIU students to see the movie.  She said they found it empowering – not only because of the journalism but also because of the decisions made by The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, who was the first woman to serve as publisher of a major newspaper in the U.S.

Panelist Rich Egger has seen the movie once.  He said the story demonstrates the value of enterprise and investigative journalism.  And he said it’s easy to look back now and say Graham made the correct decisions, but at the time she was under a great deal of pressure from business interests to hold off on publishing The Pentagon Papers. He said that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.