THE IMAGE OF THE JOURNALIST
IN POPULAR CULTURE (IJPC)
JOURNAL

Volume Seven, Fall 2016-Fall 2017

The Image of the Journalist in Silent Film, 1890 to 1929
Part One: 1890 to 1919
Appendices One to Eleven

In The Image of the Journalist in Silent Film, 1890 to 1929, Part One: 1890 to 1919, a total of 1,937 films, with each character and event identified and all of the table information encoded, were annotated and put into eleven appendices – Appendix 1, 1890-1909 (113 pages); Appendix 2, 1910 (90 pages); Appendix 3, 1911 (99 pages); Appendix 4,1912 (188 pages); Appendix 5, 1913 (290 pages); Appendix 6, 1914 (626 pages); Appendix 7, 1915 (780 pages); Appendix 8, 1916 (796 pages); Appendix 9, 1917 (772 pages); Appendix 10, 1918 (479 pages); Appendix 11, 1919 (480 pages).  Many of the films include jpegs of original reviews, advertisements and photographs showing journalists in action.

Note: Depending on the age of your computer, your wi-fi connection and the size of the appendix, it may take anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes to download the longer appendices (Appendices 5 to 11). Total number of pages for all appendices is 4,718. We appreciate your patience.

Appendix One: 1890-1909

Appendix Two: 1910

Appendix Three: 1911

Appendix Four: 1912

Appendix Five: 1913

Appendix Six: 1914

Appendix Seven: 1915

Appendix Eight: 1916

Appendix Nine: 1917

Appendix Ten: 1918

Appendix Eleven: 1919

 

Although many of the silent films featuring journalists have been lost forever, a fairly accurate picture emerges through reviews and commentaries about the films when they first appeared on the screen. Publications referred to include The Moving Picture World, Motion Picture News,[ii] Exhibitor’s Herald,[iii] Motography,[iv] The Film Daily (Wid’s Daily),[v] Variety,[vi] New York Times,[vii] Billboard[viii], New York Clipper,[ix] Picture-Play Magazine,[x] The Bioscope[xi], Edison Catalog and Biograph,[xii] Thanhouser,[xiii] and Reel Life (Mutual Film Corporation).[xiv].

Descriptive critics[xv] offer detailed plot and character summations that often rival a viewing of the film itself in addition to capturing the mores and prejudices of the time.

 

Three key references used throughout are the Internet Movie Database (IMDb – imdb.com),[xvi] “the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content,” the American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films (afi.com), [xvii] and the online IJPC Database of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture Project.[xviii] These comprehensive databases were used in resolving conflicts involved in decisions concerning inclusion, date and genre determination, spelling and other details.

Another important online resource is the Silent Era Web site (www.silentera.com), a collection of news and information pertaining to silent era films, which also includes a comprehensive search feature and was invaluable in evaluating the status of any silent film included. The Web site also offers a complete listing of silent film websites.[xix]

Journalism film historian Richard R. Ness, in his book, From Headline Hunter to Superman: A Journalism Filmography,[xx] offers a definitive account of films featuring journalists from 1890 to 1929. His commentaries and capsule reviews were referred to throughout this project.

Whenever possible, the silent films were viewed and annotated. But many silent films are either lost or their whereabouts unknown, and some prints only exist in various museums around the world. We have noted whether a film has been viewed or not by listing the film’s status and whether it was “Unavailable for Viewing,” “Not Viewed” or “Viewed.” 

The size and quality of the entries were dependent on the various sources involved. That is the reason some films are given a paragraph and some films are given several pages. The importance of a specific film on the image of the journalist in popular culture does not always coincide with the amount of space given that film.  It all depended on the availability and quality of the secondary source involved (periodicals covering the silent film era). Even an individual periodical changed over a period of time covering the films in less detail and even ignoring some films because of lack of space. We printed the best descriptions of the film available emphasizing the journalism in that film, or filling in important plot details necessary to understand in evaluating the final product for encoding purposes. If a film is located and screened, then more details are included under “video notes.”

Each film is categorized by decade, genre, gender, ethnicity, media category, job title, and description (evaluation of the image presented by each journalist or group of journalists on a subjective scale from very positive and positive to negative and very negative, to transformative positive and transformative negative to neutral).
For reference, a complete copy of the legend is printed at the bottom of each appendix.

When a film features more than
one journalist character, multiple instances of gender, ethnicity, job title, and description were recorded.  These results were checked and re-checked until accuracy and consensus were confirmed.

One of the key problems in doing a fair evaluation is that an audience may view a journalist positively even if that journalist acts in unethical and unprofessional ways. This can occur because of a variety of factors: an attractive actor in the role, a character the audience wants to succeed no matter what he/she does, a situation where the end (true love) outweighs the means (negative behavior on the part of the journalist). We have tried to evaluate the images as they might be conceived by the audiences of the period using the standards of the time, not the standards of today. While we might abhor a journalist who steals, lies, deceives, ignores basic rules of journalism and label his/her actions negative, the audiences of the period often considered such journalists heroes and judged them as a positive image. Obviously some of these decisions are debatable even after hours of debate. This is a subjective category and we worked hard to reach consensus, but it is still a subjective description. However, any researcher can go through each appendix, check each film’s encoding, read the comprehensive reviews and determine whether the description should be revised.

We divided characters identified as journalists into major and minor categories. 
A major character influences the outcome of the story or event. He or she is usually a leading character played by a major actor of the time. A minor character does not play a significant role in the development of the film. He or she is usually a part of a larger group – i.e. journalists in a news conference or roaming around in packs, or those journalists who function as a part of the editorial or technical staff. Films with unnamed characters or characters who appeared briefly and then disappeared are included.

Also included were groups of journalists who show up in films in news or press conferences, who travel in packs chasing after stories or are a group of reporters, war correspondents, freelance writers, even newsboys following a story or a specific activity. A “miscellaneous” category was created for
individual journalists unidentified in the film as to job description and usually in the background functioning as editorial and technical staff.

We decided to include films in which a newspaper story played a significant plot point.  Examples include articles or pieces that expose scandals and wrong-doing, provide erroneous information (such as a fake death), alert principals about some important news or events that cause the characters to take important actions. Journalists in films with such articles were identified as “Unidentified News Staff.”


We also made a decision to include scanned copies of the original reviews in the appendices whenever possible.  We felt this would make it easier for future researchers who would not have to search through original periodicals as we did. When an original review was barely readable, we would retype it for easier reading. Also, summary of the journalists/journalism in the film were also typed up.


Finally, in many of the periodicals covering the silent film industry, there are occasional articles we believe would be of interest to this audience. We’ve added some at the end of each appendix.

 

 



(i)Available on the Internet: Media History Digital Library: Online Access to the Histories of Cinema, Broadcasting and Sound offers a complete digital edition of the first 12 years of Moving Picture World, “the key motion picture trade publication that covered the film business during the transformation of the viewing experience from the nickelodeon to the movie palace.” Scanned from the original color magazines, the MHDL’s collection of Moving Picture World begins in 1907 and extends through June 1919, a collection of 70,000 pages, searchable and free. Moving Picture World, 1907-1926 is now available. http://mediahistoryproject.org/2012/08/06/the-complete-moving-picture-world-1907-1919/. 

[ii] Motion Picture News (1913-1929), available from Media History Project.

[iii] Exhibitor’s Herald (1917-1927, available from Media History Project.

[iv] Motography (1911-1918), available from Media History Project.

[v] Wid’s Daily (1918-1921), then became Film Daily (1922-1929), available from Media History Project.

[vi] Variety, the best known and most important trade paper in the history of American entertainment, 1905-1929, available from the Library of Congress, most libraries and the Media History Digital Library online edition.

[vii]The New York Times Film Reviews, 1907-1929. Available online by titles. http://www.nytimes.com

[viii] Billboard (1894-1921), available from the Media History Project.

[ix] New York Clipper (1855-1923), available from Media History Project.

[x] Picture-Play Magazine  (1915-1929), available from Media History Project.

[xi] The Bioscope, listing of silent film journals online, http://thebioscope.net/2010/02/28/silent-film-journals-online/.

[xii] Edison Company and the Biography Company publicity fliers contain extensive information on individual film titles. Some of their motion picture catalogues available at Rutgers, The Thomas Edition Papers (http://edison.rutgers.edu/index.htm).  Also available in various editions of The Moving Picture World, 1907-1926.

[xiii] Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. Thanhouser Company was founded in 1909 and by 1917 had released more than 1,000 silent films. Internet site: http://www.thanhouser.org/index.html

[xiv] Reel Life, 1913-1915, available from Media History Project.

[xv] Especially valuable were reviews and commentaries in The Moving Picture World, Motion Picture News, Exhibitors Herald, The Film Daily (Wid’s Daily) and Variety, which were used extensively throughout this project.

[xvi] The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information related to films, television programs and video games, including cast, production crew, fictional characters, biographies, plot summaries, trivia and reviews. By June 2016, IMDb had approximately 3.7 million titles in its database.

[xvii] The AFI Catalog of Feature films is the most authoritative filmographic database on the web. It includes entries on nearly 60,000 American feature-length films and 17,000 short films produced from 1893-2011. Director Martin Scorsese wrote, “No other source of information is as complete and accurate, and no other source is produced with the scrupulous level of attention to scholarship and research as the AFI catalog.”  The AFI catalog “is a unique filmographic resource providing an unmatched level of comprehensiveness and detail on every feature-length film produced in America or financed by American production companies. Detailed information on cast, crew, plot summaries, subjects, genres and historical notes are included for each film.” No page numbers are reference since the catalog can easily be references by searching a specific title.

[xviii] The Online IJPC Database includes more than 89,000 entries (2016) including 20,330 film titles. In addition, various online databases and Web sites, including the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), and Richard R. Ness’ definitive journalism filmography (From Headline Hunter to Superman: A Journalism Filmography) were searched for verification and new possibilities.

[xix] Among the silent film sites of some value is Silent Hall of Fame (silent-hall-of-fame.org), which offers movie reviews and silent film videos.

[xx] Richard Ness, associate professor at Western Illinois University, is the chief film consultant-researcher and associate director of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, a project of the Norman Lear Center, USC Annenberg. He is currently working on an updated edition of his classic filmography and has been instrumental in sharing new information received on films from 1890 to 1929.