Ed Driscoll

Waxing Nostalgic For Fat Ties And IBM Selectrics

Kathy Shaidle links to this Gawker collection of clips of movies about the newspaper industry. She spots someone in the comments saying, “We watched All The President’s Men in my news reporting class.” I can’t really tell from the comment when this student was in school, but it’s a pretty safe bet that more than a few journalism classes in America will be running that movie this year for their students. Just last month in the Washington Post, David Simon waxed mawkishly nostalgic and wrote, “Bright and shiny we were in the late 1970s, packed into our bursting journalism schools, dog-eared paperback copies of ‘All the President’s Men’ and ‘The Powers That Be’ atop our Associated Press stylebooks.”

But at 32 years old, the movie version of All The President’s Men is these days the equivalent of a journalism class in 1976 running His Girl Friday, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Only instead of dark suits, fedoras, fast talking dames and candlestick phones, it’s fat ties, polyester and IBM Selectric typewriters. But both movies reflect journalistic paradigms long since passed into history, no matter how painful that might be for newspaper journalists and the professors who taught them to come to grips with.