Media Survey 

mediaONmedia: The media insider poll on the media business

mediaONmedia is a new and unique poll of industry “media insiders”. Targeted at people who are working inside the media business itself, Wessenden Marketing and InPublishing will be finding out over the next few weeks, what are the all-time favourite films, TV series and books about the media business.

By Jim Bilton

mediaONmedia: The media insider poll on the media business
Orson Welles in Citizen Kane. Photograph: RKO Radio Pictures, still photographer Alexander Kahle, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Which films best capture the media industry?

Looking specifically at just the film format demonstrates what a wealth of material there is.

Released back in 1941, Citizen Kane remains the gold standard – the ground-breaking, standard-setting, archetype-creating film-maker’s film. Yet, is it all now a bit passé and legacy-platform? There are so many other contenders…

  • All the President’s Men is many journalists’ favourite about journalism. Yet The Post has got it all – investigative journalism plus the business and ownership issues that lay behind it.
  • And what about the more recent News of the World? Is this the first media western? Click here for a review.
  • The Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, may seem a bit left-field. Yet it goes along with some other slightly whacky fictional representations of media which appear on some people’s lists, like The Great Muppet Caper, Spiderman and the Superman series, which features the world’s most famous reporter (Clark Kent) working for the world’s most famous newsbrand (The Daily Planet).

If you want more of a magazine flavour, then The Devil Wears Prada is very Condé Nast. And A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood – Tom Hanks again! – is very Hearst. Then there is Shattered Glass showing a magazine journalist creating his own fake news.

Go into TV news and you hit a wide range, from classics like Network and Broadcast News through to Nixon / Frost. Move over to radio and there is Play Misty For Me, Good Morning Vietnam and The Boat that Rocked.

The Social Network and The Circle are at the softer end of social media films. There is also a lot of factual documentary output such as the rather scary The Social Dilemma.

Maybe you have your own favourite media film, not listed above. And then there are TV shows and books. We want to know what you would choose. And why.

Why are we doing this?

There are two reasons. Firstly, it is a simple bit of fun in these challenging times. To come up with a must-view list of great creative output about the industry we work in and love. As individuals, we may have missed something really powerful, inspiring and thought-provoking. Or want to go back to an old favourite. Or perhaps we should be discovering something new.

Yet there is also a more serious angle. At a time when defining what “media” actually is, what value it has in a world of media manipulation and whether who owns the media platforms makes any real difference – the debate about all these issues is being shaped in a very subtle way by creative media products that are actually about media. As media insiders, we have both a unique insight and a vested interest. What do we feel represents our industry the best? And what should be giving us hope for the future?

The results of the anonymous poll will be analysed by Wessenden Marketing and summarised in InPublishing. Yet to provide a flavour, here is a review, from a media insider perspective, of the latest Tom Hanks film, News of the World – a curious Media Western hybrid.

What are the categories and criteria for the poll?

We have deliberately kept the four core categories very broad, as there are now so many genres and hybrids. Also, the dividing lines between documentaries, fact-based and fictional outputs are getting very blurred. We have also kept the criteria flexible as well. We want you to choose your “favourites” and explain briefly why. We shall create our own categories and themes from the open-ended output you give us.

We ask you for two personal bits of information, which will be treated in confidence – your age and your job title. We want to know this to analyse the responses.

  • We suspect that age will have a major influence on the results. It is clear that many lists out there are compiled by people with great nostalgia for the “golden age” of the Seventies and for old tech and platforms. Yet is the industry perspective shifting?
  • We know that the job you do will also shape the results. Journalists tend to love the out-and-out journalism films like All the President’s Men, whereas the more commercial people are also interested in the business context and media ownership, which plays a big part of The Post.
Jim Bilton's mediaONmedia selection

And just to get you going!......

To start you thinking, here are my own personal favourites…

  • Media Film: The Post
  • Media TV Series: Succession
  • Factual Media Book: Paper Tigers (Nicholas Coleridge)
  • Fictional Media Book: Sunday Morning (Ray Connolly)
  • Most influential person in media in 2021: Donald Trump (I will tell you why when I analyse the poll results in a couple of weeks!)

Please vote now. Join the discussion. And pass it on