On Tuesday, some of The Sheridan Press staff stopped by Centennial Theatres for the $5 movie night. We knew “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks had made its way to Sheridan and we decided to take it in.
About a half-dozen or so of us — from various departments — attended. It was fun. We’ve been trying to do more outings as a staff and this one was the most recent. (We also have a rec volleyball team comprised largely of Press staff — nothing like a little competition to solidify some team bonding).
Unlike the pure enjoyment of having colleagues enjoy some time together outside of work, I had mixed feelings about the movie.
Of course, as a journalist the story inspired. Speaking truth to power is one of the media’s most important jobs. We don’t always do it well, as the movie points out, but we serve the people, not the people in power.
The technological side of the movie proved entertaining, too.
As a journalist born in the 1980s, it’s a kick to see how newspapers used to be printed. Typewriters, vacuum tubes to send stories (kind of like the tubes in the drive-thru at the bank) and typesetting for the printing press itself. Our process now seems complicated, but I am grateful every day for the technological advancements that have been made.
While I am a full believer in the power and responsibility of working in the news industry, some of the moments portrayed in the film seemed a little over the top or redundant. Nearly every journalism film I’ve seen has included shots of newspapers being tossed out of the back of a delivery truck, trucks leaving the bay at the press and scenes of the paper zipping through the printing press. Certainly all scenes from the industry, but maybe not necessary in every newspaper movie ever made.
As a woman, too, the film felt a little awkward. Katharine Graham was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. She comes across as a timid and tentative leader who allows her male colleagues to dictate terms. Until, that is, she’s forced to make a career-defining decision. Then, it’s like a light switches on and she stands her ground.
As a female publisher in what continues to be a male-dominated industry, that portrayal seems unrealistic. The change, the ability to speak up and be heard in a room full of people who may think you don’t belong, doesn’t typically happen overnight. It takes time. But, it’s a movie and it’s much more interesting to show the change occur in Graham like a revelation.
Still, the scene of Graham walking out of the Supreme Court hearing with women and girls looking to her in admiration, that struck a chord. Having role models that look like you can be a powerful thing. It helps you imagine where you can be.
So, while parts of the film may have been a little over the top, the overall tone and tenor was spot on. Plus, you can’t beat a night on the town with some of your favorite people.