Jeremy Renner as the late journalist Gary Webb in ‘Kill the Messenger’
Movies about journalists and journalism look so exciting and compelling. I am afraid actually living the life of a journalist and practicing journalism is not so unless there are half a dozen cameras following you on all assignments. Watching the trailer of the latest movie about a journalist called Gary Webb of The San Jose Mercury News reporter I tried comparing my life with his and have concluded that a crew of six or so cinematographers would be great.
The movie is based on a true story involving Webb who in 1995 and 1996 did a three-part series of stories about how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) looked the other way as some of its operatives engaged in drug-dealing during the U.S.-backed operations against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Webb’s stories were received with enthusiasm first and then dismissed as crazy, eventually leading him to commit suicide in 2004. While the trailer looks riveting and so is the movie likely to be, I am sure when Webb was doing what he was doing he would have felt utterly lonely and unglamorous. To think that Jeremy Renner would one day portray him on the big screen would not even have crossed his mind as he battled doubt and derision. Of course, Renner was not on the scene then.
Those who have followed Webb’s story say that there were problems with his approach to and sourcing of the story but overall he got the scandal right. His story and the series he reported are tailor-made for a Hollywood film. I am glad it is coming alive. As a journalist I am partial towards movies about journalists and journalism, partly because I know in reality they are so devoid of glamor, particularly the life of a print journalist. I have half a dozen true stories involving fellow journalists that can be made into excellent films.
As a trivial and unconnected aside, every time I Jeremy Renner, I think of Sean Penn.