Awards season starts tonight and everyone is obsessed with Meryl Streep, so of course I had to see The Post. I live for watching movies about the media industry! Over the break, I finally saw State of Play. I also loved similar movies based on real stories, especially Obit (The New York Times) and Spotlight (The Boston Globe). In fact, one of my top professional highlights of 2017 was writing a tweet that was noticed by Kim Kardashian and then featured on the Boston Globe’s website.
The Post is about how Meryl Streep’s character Kay Graham, the first female newspaper publisher in America, handled the decision making process when her team at The Washington Post had the opportunity to publish the Pentagon Papers.
These papers were key because as one character points out, the U.S. government “knew we couldn’t win and still sent boys to die.” The movie explains how the classified documents went public while presenting the workplace drama that transpired at The Washington Post, as well as The New York Times and The White House.
If you’re passionate about politics and journalism, then this is a movie to strongly consider seeing.
The movie mostly illustrates what it was like for men in suits to work during the Vietnam War; however, its portrayal of how women were treated is also powerful. Kay landed her position at The Washington Post because her late husband named her as his successor. Her male colleagues are doubtful of her ability to keep the newspaper profitable, but the movie effectively explores how she proves them wrong.
Similar to Rachel McAdams’ characters in State of Play and Spotlight, there was only one female reporter on The Washington Post’s team dedicated to the Pentagon Papers. Meg Greenfield (Carrie Coon) didn’t have many lines in the script until one of the final scenes when it was time to reveal the court’s verdict in The Washington Post’s case against the government. She received a call to share the news with her team, but just when she was about to announce it, a male co-worker cut her off. It was the man who got to say two key words: “we win!”
At least Kay had the chance to say the most important words in the whole movie: “Let’s go. Let’s publish!” Watching Kay navigate her way through the office and social gatherings, as well as observing the other female characters, made me think about Canadian women in the media who I admire.
Another highlight of 2017 for me was meeting Noreen Flanagan, editor-in-chief of FASHION Magazine and former editor-in-chief of ELLE Canada. I discovered Noreen through the masthead many years ago and credit her with making me accept my middle name, Noreen, which I never liked. Aside from her name, I only knew that she had one of the coolest jobs in the country and that made me a fan. Last spring, I had a chance to chat with her in person and it was one of the most meaningful meet and greets ever.
We need more people like Kay Graham and Noreen Flanagan paving the way for young women in media – whether it’s publishing, advertising or entertainment. The Post is an important reminder of the circumstances women face at work and why we need more female professional role models to inspire the next generation. This movie was notably dedicated to Nora Ephron and I hope other directors take a cue from Steven Spielberg and do something similar!