Page One: Inside the New York Times
Personality-driven documentary about the world-famous publication
These are dark days for the newspaper business. Advertising revenues and circulations are slumping in the face of ‘free’ online competitors, whilst scores of titles have already folded. Andrew Rossi’s fly-on-the-wall documentary charts a turbulent year (2009–2010) on the media desk of America’s paper of renown, The New York Times, whose survival is now at stake. Jobs are being slashed from its newsroom, a pay wall for subscribers is announced, and the controversial editorial decision is taken to publish redacted WikiLeaks documents from the Afghanistan war. Will Apple’s newly launched iPad be, in the words of one staff member: ‘a bridge to the future or the gallows?’
The respectful Page One focuses more on personalities than questions of finances and ownership, and skims over the scandals involving former reporters Judith Miller and Jayson Blair, which did so much damage to the paper’s reputation. The film’s undeniable star turns out to be the rasping-voiced columnist and ex-crack addict David Carr, whose principled and rigorous investigation into corporate wrongdoing at the Tribune company upholds the finest traditions of his paper. Lingering questions remain, however, not least whether there will be enough future readers and online subscribers to finance this type of in-depth and expert reporting.
GFT, Glasgow from Fri 23–Thu 29 Sep.