The Post

The Post: Definitely Newsworthy

The Post…many people hate it because it costs a lot of money each year, takes a while to get through and adds to clutter, but it’s right in your hands. The newspaper is a dying medium of mass communication whose end has been making front page headlines for years. In a time where young audiences wish to only receive news through their smartphones and a climate where the press is attacked by the Trump administration, it’s important to remember when paper journalism shined in the country’s darkest days.

Those dark days overshadowed the United States starting in 1965 when young men were sent into combat for the Vietnam War. Spanning to 1975, the war killed 58,220 young people, but why? Some answers came from the Pentagon Papers, which was a study of the country’s involvement in Vietnam conducted by the Department of Defense. The Papers were classified, but their information showed the government’s secrets on the United States’ true objective in Vietnam.

When the Washington Post obtained the Pentagon Papers in 1971, their executive editor, played by Tom Hanks, and owner of the newspaper, played by Meryl Streep, had to make the crucial decision of publishing the information when the press was targeted by the Nixon administration.

Considering today’s communicative and political environment, director Steven Spielberg has released a timely film that’s initially slow, but intense in its second half.

The first half of Spielberg’s film is spent setting up story lines that become crucial down the stretch. Most of the beginning is excitingly spent sitting in board meetings talking about the stock market and Tom Hanks pacing around his office saying in a croaky voice, “the damn New York Times!” If you work a nine to five office job, watching The Post will start to feel like overtime. However, once the Pentagon Papers come into play, the film picks up steam. It’s like a kid sifting through the dull first pages of the newspaper filled with bland articles like “President Calls North Korean Dictator ‘Rocket Man,’” then finally reaching the sports section.

The Pentagon Papers bring a lot of risk to the Washington Post. For the Post’s owner, Kay Graham, she must determine if publishing the story will affect her investors’ minds. Both Graham and executive editor Ben Bradlee run the chance of going to jail because of the Nixon administration’s aggressive clampdown on journalism. What drives their decision is the will of the people.

Imagine at 17 you’re about to graduate high school, but you receive a military draft notice in the mail informing that you’ll be sent to fight in the jungles of Vietnam as soon as possible. At this moment, the world stops. There’s so much ahead, but it could all be cut short. Having a job you enjoy, meeting that special someone, owning your first home or car, all the memories you’ll share with friends and your legacy living on through your children hangs in the balance. The future’s not only bleak for you, but your parents and loved ones as well. For 17 years your parents or loved ones have been by your side watching you grow to be the incredible person you are today, but they could possibly be spending their last moments with you.

If you were the parents of those 58,220 young people or know one of the 200,000 Vietnam veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), wouldn’t you want answers? After decades of the government lying about the involvement in Vietnam, the truth is not only deserved, but vital.

The truth is still hard to come by in today’s political environment. President Donald Trump has repeatedly called the press dishonest and has dubbed them as the “enemy of the American people.” The President can continue to blast the media, but it won’t stop their strides in reporting. We can look back on the tremendous achievements in paper journalism that occurred over forty years ago with the Pentagon Papers, but recognize that history is still in the making.

While we admire the efforts of journalists to nail a story, we can also appreciate the effort that goes into creating a newspaper. As Graham and Bradlee debate to publish the story, they face a deadline to get the issue out the next morning. It’s not like a Facebook status update where we can click a button so the whole world can care for our opinion. Not only does a story have to be well written and accurate for the Washington Post, but it goes through a tedious editing and publishing process as well.

Decades ago, creating and shipping newspapers on time was a strenuous process because of the printing press. Even so, the newspaper you hold in your hands is a labor of love by a group of people who are passionate about journalism. Whether it’s a story on the stress of finals week or President Dimmena doing donuts in the commuter parking lot with his Harley on the weekends, we want to broaden your horizons with our stories. The Post gives a behind the scenes look of how much effort was put into giving the product you hold in your hands.

Tom Hanks’ performance portrays the passion of reporters as Ben Bradlee. Bradlee is a stubborn executive editor who is constantly playing catch up with the New York Times. Bradlee is reminiscent of J.K. Simmons’ performance as J. Jonah Jameson, but without the cigar and mustache. The editor is always snappy with his superiors and loose with his coworkers. With his vigor, Bradlee is the most exciting character and represents the attitude editors bring to have a successful paper.

The Post feels like a rallying call for journalists today. It tells us that no matter how high the stakes might be, it’s important for people to get the facts. However, if one’s familiar with the Pentagon Papers story, this isn’t breaking news.

IMAGE TAKEN from FoxMovies