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Film Review: One Rogue Reporter

15th December 2014

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One Rogue Reporter, directed and produced by former tabloid journalist Rich Peppiatt and filmmaker Tom Jenkinson, is a documentary with many facets, in terms of both direction and style. It is a film with a strong sense of DIY throughout, which works both to its asset and to its disadvantage - offering a piece of work that is funny and audacious at times, but whose main argument takes a while to fully emerge. 

The documentary, which started as a stage show at Edinburgh Fringe and premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June this year, comes as a result of Peppiatt's own experiences of the dark side of Fleet Street.

Now having turned his back on the tabloid world, Peppiatt (“Fleet Street’s very own angel of vengeance”, according to the Guardian) is denouncing its culture - namely the lack of sources and integrity from pretty much everyone involved, himself included.

In its short 60 minutes the documentary denounces the culture of an industry where sales are far more essential than conscientious journalism, through the playing of pranks on some of those at the heart of it. 

Unfortunately the structure is somehow messy; the references are numerous, but the editing fails to tie them all together with the desired effect. Archives of film footage are mixed with conference shots and fragments of Peppiatt's original Fringe show. One Rogue Reporter mainly relies on cut editing, and it might have been worth  looking into more cinematographic devices to convey the main argument of the film, which unfortunately gets lost under the lack of clearer editing style. 

The film is divided in four parts, each following an individual working in the industry. The first is Peppiatt himself who, instead of taking the easy way out and keeping silent on own dubious work, highlights some of his most horrible titles - from Islamophobia to transphobia. From this, we get to see the worst of Peppiatt's work.

This part of the film also sees the creation of three fictitious characters that embody Peppiatt's early career in journalism. Whilst maybe underused during the majority of the film, these personas enable a funny closing sequence. 

Overall, One Rogue Reporter is a good offering in terms of content, and its biting nature offers some truly hilarious moments. The lack of clear aesthetic choice and the narrative structure of the documentary itself need tidying, however. Most of the pranks do work, though, and the interviewees involved, including Steve Coogan and High Grant, offer interesting insight into the personal experiences that those in the public eye have had with the tabloids. 

One Rogue Reporter (2014), directed by Rich Peppiatt and Tom Jenkinson, is distributed in the UK by FilmBuff, Certificate 18.

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