In this issue’s Research Report, Michael Schudson and Danielle Haas give scientific backbone to The Hunting Party’s message: However low the institution of The Media may have plummeted in the mass imagination, they write, reporters close to home remain figures of faith. And, therefore, figures of fascination. It’s no coincidence that so many of the journalists Hollywood has given us of late—Truman Capote, Veronica Guerin, Stephen Glass, Zodiac’s Robert Graysmith, Daniel Pearl, Edward Murrow—are based on real-world reporters. Contemporary films reveal a cultural desire to understand journalism’s realities, to appreciate, on a basic level, the work that goes into writing the first draft of history. They also suggest the fact that the pool of those writers has been, in recent years, steadily—exponentially—expanding. (Superman Returns, whose Lois and Clark are two of pop culture’s most famous reporters, gives a playful nod to citizen journalism. “These are iconic,” the Daily Planet’s editor barks at his staff, holding photos of Superman, “and they were taken by a twelve-year-old with a camera phone.”) Journalism is evolving, and Hollywood, cultural mirror that it is, is reflecting its growth. Today’s celluloid journalists may not be forged in the stark contrasts of the past, but their complexity makes them stronger characters, more empathetic and more tantalizingly, identifiably human—more, in short, like their audiences. On the big screen, as in life, they’re still worth looking up to.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.