Major Theme Paper:
Journalism with Conviction

July 7, 2001

30-minute timed essay
Comparing "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Call Northside 777"

  After watching these two films, I noticed that in both films the journalist became an active part of the theme of their articles. They both held strong beliefs about those articles, and were willing to actively take action in defending those beliefs. Even though the issues were not directly effecting them, they still presevered for those it did effect.

In 777, the journalist investigates a conspicuous ad in the newspaper for evidence about an 11 year old murder. He meets the submitter of the ad, the mother of the boy who she claims was wrongly accused of the murder, and has been working for 11 years to try to get him freed. Knowing it could just be a case of misplaced faith, he looks at the evidence presented in the case and meets the man in jail. He soon realizes that the man could very well be innocent and tries to get enough evidence to get another trial. He was foiled more than once but he kept on trying to prove the man innocent, even after being told by the man himself not to make a fuss about it. He put himself at risk, researching and interviewing in dangerous areas, to achieve a goal that would not benefit himself. Through his determination for proving the truth, the man was found innocent by a pardoning committee.

In Gentleman's Agreement, the journalist is asked to do an article on Anti-Semitism. He decides the best way to get an accurate article is to pretend to be Jewish since no one knows him in the town. He was surprised by just how many people harbored ill will towards the entire Jewish group. He keeps up the charade, causeing him and his family a lot of problems, but he knew that Anti-Semitism was wrong and refused to declare his true religion, knowing that would be just as good as saying that they are right. He is even willing to go through with it after his young son comes home crying after being called names by the other children. He even puts his marriage at risk when his wife-to-be, who claimed to be fully against Anti-Semitism, does nothing while it goes on around her. He believed strongly enough that not acting Anti-Semitic was not good enough, rather you had to do something against it.

In both movies, the journalist shows a strong moral code and the willingness to back it up with action, often putting himself and those around him through though situations that they would not otherwise have had to go through. Although fighting for his beliefs would effect his own situation little, they both showed great strength of character in fighting for those who would be effected.

copyright, 2001, all rights reserved


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