PAGE ONE: A YEAR INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES
(director/writer: Andrew Rossi; screenwriter: Kate Novack; cinematographer: Andrew Rossi; editors: Chad Beck/Christopher Branca/Sarah Devorkin; music: Paul Brill; cast: David Carr, Bill Keller, Brian Stelter, Tim Arango, Bruce Headlam; Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kate Novack/Andrew Rossi/Josh Braun/David Hand/Alan Oxman/Adam Schlesinger; Magnolia Pictures; 2011)
“The doc is good enough to get the viewer to root for the New York Times to find a way to exist without becoming another newspaper casualty.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An insider’s look for the year 2010 at the daily inner workings at the New York Times Media Desk, as it signals a pessimistic outlook for the print media. Director Andrew Rossi (“Eat This New York”/”Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven”) is on a roll when he covers a number of big name newspapers going out of business, how the loss of money from advertisers is a bad sign for the publishers, the daily conference meetings of the editors that set the news agenda for Page One, how the paper handled theWikiLeaks stories dumped in their lap of damagingIraq War footage and classified government emails, and the mismanagement of the Tribune company under the new ownership of the sleazy Sam Zell. What it didn’t handle that well was why their war reporter Judith Miller provided false information about WMD and damaged the paper’s rep without being reined in by her bosses.
The doc wonders aloud if the print media is a dead man walking, as it tells of the world’s most prestigious paper’sstruggles to exist, its competition from free parasitic blogs, a youthful population that no longer must read a newspaper like their parents, its massive layoffs, its pullback on costs (including investigative journalism), and its charging for full access to its online publication.
The salty gravel-voiced ex-crack addict media reporter David Carr shines with his sharp retorts on how it feels for the print media to be in the war zone and his spot-on put downs of the pretentious reporters on Vice Magazine, as the New York Times, referred to respectfully as theGray Lady, in this time of great turmoil for the media industry must apologize for its poor coverage of the Iraq War, the unfortunate plagiarism scandal involving its former star reporter Jayson Blair, continual loss of readership, and how it tries to find a way to evolve despite operating in an arena of unprecedented fear in the newsroom. The doc is good enough to get the viewer to root for the New York Times to find a way to exist without becoming another newspaper casualty and to prove once again the paper can deliver the vital information the public needs to make the democracy work. The film’s theme, which borders close to infomercial turf, is that it would be too depressing to think that there would be no more New York Times to give us ‘all the news that’s fit to print.’
REVIEWED ON 8/13/2011 GRADE: B