‘The Post’ discloses relevant commentary on journalism ethics


Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, David Cross as Howard Simons, John Rue as Gene Patterson, Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, Jessie Mueller as Judith Martin and Philip Casnoff as Chalmers Roberts discuss the gravity of publishing top secret documents such as The Pentagon Papers in July of 1971. Photo used with permission of Tribune News Service.

Expectations for the “The Post” were incredibly high before its limited release on December 22 and public release January 12 for obvious reasons. The Steven Spielberg film stars household names Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and its story tells a timely commentary to say the least.

The movie takes place in 1971 and surrounds the leak of the Pentagon Papers, which were documents of the highest level of classification studying the United States’ political and military involvement in the Vietnam War. The historical study was kept from the public because it revealed how the government drew out the war and caused the deaths of thousands of American soldiers.

This movie could not have come at a better time. It demonstrates how crucial the protection of the First Amendment is and explores how far those protections should go. I also think it is important that the ethics of journalism were accurately portrayed throughout the film. This shows the audience what responsible news reporting looks like, something so vital in an era filled with clickbait and bias.

Themes of female empowerment also have an essential role in the film’s relevance. Streep plays the role of Kay Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post at the time. Graham would have been one the few women running a business that large in the early 70s and the movie highlights the strength it takes her to make the heavy decisions she faced. An especially moving scene involved a character explaining how brave someone must be to put themselves on the line for what is right, a concept not only integral to responsible journalism, but also to the #Me Too movement.

This movie was exceptional and even those without a connection to journalism can enjoy it. It takes a fair amount of concentration to truly understand, but I think it is worth the time to delve into.

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