Helen Martin: The Post shows press freedom is essential for democracy

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post.
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post.
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MOVIE critiques are not my speciality, but as a journalist I couldn’t resist seeing Spielberg’s The Post, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep as the editor and owner of the Washington Post in 1971, the year my career in newspapers began.

I won’t ruin the plot for potential viewers. But it accurately represented the time. About 97 per cent of journalists were men, newsrooms were filled with the noise of clattering typewriters and ringing phones, smoke filled the air. Once the presses started rolling in the building the desks shook. Copy was sent in vacuum tubes to compositors turning hot metal into print lines. Printing halls turning out hundreds of thousands of copies were thrilling. And all news and information came from TV, radio and papers.

The best punchline of the film was a statement by a Supreme Court judge that press freedom is essential for democracy and “the role of the press is to serve the governed, not the governors” … the UK Government (and some daily papers today) should take note.

READ MORE: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks tell the story behind The Post