Parents' Guide to

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Fascinating but unfocused docu on media, ethics, power.

Movie NR 2017 95 minutes
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The issue of the power and sway of the moneyed elite over our media is a worthy one, but a lack of focus mars this documentary. Time spent delving into the infamous "Hulk Hogan Sex Tape" trial or the pretensions of Peter Thiel could have been spent on the larger issue of what happens (or could happen) when the rich decide to go after reporters and media outlets that publish anything perceived to be hostile to their interests. The alarmist tone fails to take in context. Aside from a brief mention of men like William Randolph Hearst, who used their ownership of newspapers to promote their interests at the expense of enlightened discourse, there is zero discussion of the ramifications of, say, General Electric owning NBC in the 1980s, or even what happened to the quality of our news when the marketplace itself -- ratings, shareholders, profit margins -- took precedence over the duty of informing the public of what it needs to know to be informed citizens. Or the elimination of "equal time" laws. Or the increased monopolization of media and the ascendancy of Fox News in the aftermath of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. And so on.

Had the film stuck strictly to Bollea v. Gawker, to issues of free speech, the internet, privacy, ethics in journalism, and what line (if any) exists between the public persona and private lives of celebrities, Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press would have been a great documentary. Had it stuck strictly to the tireless reporting and deep integrity of the reporters and editors of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (most of whom have since resigned) who stood up to Sheldon Adelson, it would have been a great documentary. With its blending of too many issues, the result is still worthwhile and informative, but just OK overall.

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