“You can’t make this stuff up” is a comment often heard in the newsroom of a newspaper.
A couple years ago, a person who stole a vehicle actually tried to sell the car back to the owner. Naturally, when he showed up to collect the money, law enforcement was waiting.
The Academy Award nomination of “The Post” for best picture just goes to show that fact is often more entertaining than fiction.
The film “All The President’s Men,” released in 1977, was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress. It, too, was based on actual events.
The 2016 movie Spotlight which focused on a scandal in Boston was nominated for six awards and won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
The last two movies my wife Kathy and I viewed in a movie theater were “Spotlight” and “The Post” which we saw on Sunday.
During our drive home, Kathy pointed out that “The Post” illustrated that newspaper publishing involves many people. She reminded me that the news staff does not put out a paper alone.
Those movies also showed:
• It’s not uncommon for a newsperson’s day to start before the sun comes up and end when the presses run. In the case of The Washington Post, that is at midnight.
• Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines are always in the forefront of everyone involved.
• While news is the key to newspapers, just as important are the pressmen and the carriers and delivery drivers that are on the street when the wind chill is below zero, it is snowing or it is 110 degrees during the summer.
• There are always sources that are willing to leak information to the press whether it’s in Washington, D.C. or Kansas.
• Copy editors make reporters look better.
(Not to give away any secrets, but there is a scene in “The Post” where a Washington Post reporter, among the best in the United States at the time, finishes typing a story. It gets delivered to the copy editor via a pneumatic tube similar to what a drive through bank uses. The copy editor promptly crosses out the first line of the lead.)
• It takes a special person to be the spouse of a reporter.
(On several occasions I have been headed out the door to go home when “code black” was announced over the scanner. I was mowing the lawn when a phone call came that the Great Plains Theatre was on fire. That was close to a “stop the presses” moment. I know of one reporter that typed her story on her phone as she was headed to a K-State football game. And no, she wasn’t driving.)
• It doesn’t matter if a newsperson is at a special dinner, a birthday party or watching television. The news doesn’t take a break and it’s always a subject of conversation.
Both “All The President’s Men” and “The Post” involved The Washington Post at the time Richard Nixon was president. The former involves Watergate which happened in 1972. The latter was about the publishing of the Pentagon Papers a year prior.
Both featured leading actors. “All The President’s Men” starred Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman while “The Post” starred Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Post owner Katherine Graham.
There are several great quotes from the movie “The Post”.
Editor Ben Bradlee said of his friend President Kennedy, “I never thought of Jack as a source. I thought of him as a friend and that was my mistake.”
Bradlee said, “If we live in a world where the United States government tells you what we can and cannot print, the Washington Post has already ceased to exist.”
Kay Graham concludes, “The news is the first rough draft of history.”
So, thanks to all my co-workers, both those with bylines and those behind the scenes, for helping with each day’s edition.