With Pad and Pencil: Old Stereotypes in a New Form? A Comparison of the Image of the Journalist in the Movies from 1930-1949 and 1990-2004
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis aims to provide an insight into the stereotypical imagery of journalists on the screen and its changes in popular culture, namely in film. Much research has been done on categorising different filmic characters and on journalist in popular culture as well as in real life, but from my knowledge no comparative approach focussing on the changes in the filmic stereotypes has been undertaken yet. Therefore my literature review covers existing research on journalists in film and the various categories scholar do put these characters in. Using qualitative content analysis, namely by watching and opposing sixteen selected movies, this study aims to give some in-depth view into the question if and how filmic stereotypes have changed over the approximately seventy years that lie between the films from the first (1930-1949) and second (1990-2004) period of analysis. In eight comparative chapters this study argues that some stereotypes have changed while others remain the same. Influential factors for these changes as found in the thesis are for example history, culture and audience expectation. The reason some stereotypes do not change is that they are deeply embedded in American myth that is even harder to change than stereotypes. The thesis concludes that most journalistic figures underwent considerable changes or even disappeared with only the crusading journalist, as a mythical heroic figure, hardly changed at all.