PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (2011) — RetroView by Jennifer Merin
The New York Times continues to be the nation’s newspaper of record, although news gathering and publishing are undergoing rapid transformations, and the New York Times has had to cut its staff for economic reasons. The film looks at how the New York Times is handling the rise of new media, and considers what will become of the newspaper in the future.
The Times, They Are A-Changing…
Shooting solo over a 14-month period at the NYT offices, filmmaker Andrew Rossi claimed unprecedented access to our nation’s newspaper of record. Rossi chronicled high-level daily editorial meetings, focused on Media Desk Editor Bruce Headlam’s anxious efforts to navigate the famous wikileaks story, and covered the various reportorial forays of Media Desk journalists Dave Carr (stalking the Tribune Media Company bankruptcy), Tim Arango and former blogger Brian Stelter.
In concentrating primarily on the NYT’s Media Desk, Rossi seeks to reveal how the newspaper is covering and coping with current changes in the business of news gathering and publishing. The film reveals tensions between the NYT’s old-school print journalists who see themselves as journalism’s meticulous standard bearers and its younger and enthusiastic staff bloggers who feel their contribution is to spread word qiocl;u about what’s happening in the world through fast and furious online publishing.
Moving Towards New Media
Nor is there clarity about how the NYT has been and is transitioning and incorporating new media into its own business plan. Examples are given about how newspapers are shutting down their print editions, and there’s some discussion about the NYT might cease. Most think that’s unthinkable. Yet, the differences between the NYT’s print and online editions aren’t made clear, although NYT online is compared to entities such as HuffPo. And, there’s no mention of NYT’s ownership of About.com, which isn’t a news site, per se, but is one of the world’s largest, most successful new media entities.
A Subject of Interest
Everyone is curious about the NYT and how it works. For many, reading the newspaper’s print edition is a daily ritual.
If Page One is intended to be a look at how the newspaper is integrating with new media to keep up with the times and avoid going under, the omission of mention of About.com makes the film — and its discussion — incomplete.
But, the NYT has such a huge following, Page One will probably do well in theatrical release and over the long term.
Page One is quite entertaining, providing moments of intrigue as well as hilarious sequences where we get to see the feisty and funny Dave Carr at work. Carr is really the star of the show. It’s worth seeing the film to get to know him a little bit better.
But the star of Page One should really be the NYT, in all its current angst and glory. That’s the documentary’s genuinely engaging subject, and a film I’d like to see.
Title: Page One: Inside The New York Times
Director: Andrew Rossi
Theatrical Release Date: June, 2011 (limited)
Running Time: 88 mins.
MPAA Rating: R, for language, including sexual references
Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
Location: New York City
Production Company: Participant Media/History Films
Distribution Company: Magnolia Pictures
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