Scheming in Seattle

Movie good, journalistic ethics a little dodgy
stylized image in pink, grey and gold of a still from the film 'Sleepless in Seattle'
illustration: Tyler Littwin

Nora Ephron loved journalists. She made her female protagonists reporters again and again: There’s Sally Albright in “When Harry Met Sally,” and food blogger Julie Powell of “Julie & Julia.” Yet of all her reporting heroines, it’s Annie Reed of “Sleepless in Seattle” who stands out, for me, because she holds a job that I’ve had too—daily newspaper reporter. So with the holidays here and “Sleepless” always a natural fit for any December film rotation—we first meet Annie on Christmas Eve, after all—I embarked on an investigation. Old movies show us all kinds of things once taken for granted, things that now raise questions, perhaps even a hackle or two. In her quest to find true love on the company dime, is Annie ethical? Furthermore, is she even a good journalist?

Meg Ryan as reporter Annie Reed, on the phone and munching a Lorna Doone cookie
Meg Ryan as Annie Reed in Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
(Spoilers abound! You’ve been warned.)

The film opens with Annie, played by Meg Ryan, at Christmas dinner; she's introducing her family to her new fiancé, the well-meaning but perpetually allergic Walter (Bill Pullman), who also happens to be the paper’s associate publisher. (Did the duo mention this relationship to their managers? Were conflicts of interest in the office avoided? It was the 1990s, and the film doesn’t say.)

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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