As someone who spent more than 25 years in radio and television news, I have drawn the conclusion that there are two kinds of journalists: 1) Those who want to be seen. 2) Those who want to be heard.
Journalists who want to be seen are out to make a name for themselves. Many of them are cut throat and will do anything it takes to get to the top. One more thing about them is they love face time or to see their name in the top byline.
Then you have journalists who want to be heard. These are the ones who have a story to tell and work hard to make sure you hear it. That's the kind of journalist I believe Steve Lopez of the LA Times is.
Lopez discovered a musical genius named Nathaniel Ayers Jr., by accident back in 2005. Ayers was a homeless man who caught the ear of Lopez with his two-stringed violin. From that moment, Lopez says he felt compelled to learn more about this individual. How did he end up in LA from Cleveland, OH? He wanted to know how someone who studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music could end up on the streets with no place to go.
Ayers is played in the movie by Jamie Foxx. I am not a Jamie Foxx fan but I have to say this role is, by far, is the best character I have ever seen him play. It is my understanding that he actually spent time with people suffering from Ayers' condition to get a real sense of what it was like.
The Lopez role was played by Robert Downey Jr. After Tropic Thunder, I thought I would never watch another movie with him in it again. (That's how horrible I thought his character was). However, he did impress me in Iron Man, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt for The Soloist. He didn't disappoint.
This movie isn't a tear jerker but it does tug at your heart strings. It is also a reminder that one person can still make a difference in someone else's life--and you don't necessarily have to be a journalist.
I highly recommend this movie and I hope that I, too, was the kind of journalist who was heard.