The movie Good Night, and Good Luck (2005 Warner Bros.) should be required viewing for every blogger and online journalist on the planet. Forget about the fact that it's shot in black and white. Forget about the fact that it features actual footage of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Forget about the fact that it features some of the greatest acting talent in the industry. This movie is about one thing, and one thing only: Journalistic integrity.
Good Night, and Good Luck takes us back to the 1950s, when television has just started to find it's way into American living rooms. It's a factual accounting of events that occurred when CBS broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn), his producer, Fred Friendly (George Clooney), and their crew of investigative reporters and cameramen decided it was time to take on Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
David Strathairn gives such an eerily accurate portrayal of Edward R. Murrow that one would think Murrow had access to a time machine and jumped ahead specifically to portray himself in this film. Which is an interesting thought. What if Edward R. Murrow were somehow able to make an appearance here, in the 21st Century? What might his opinion be of modern journalism, especially considering his opinion of mass media in 1958:
“If there are any historians about 50 or 100 years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all 3 networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it may see a totally different picture too late.”
Good Night, and Good Luck opens with Murrow delivering the above speech to the Radio and Television News Director's Association and Foundation in 1958 after he'd already gone head-to-head with McCarthy. That very same speech could be given just as easily today with one minor change. Replace the word television with the word Internet.