USA, 2010, 88 min
The venerated New York Times finds itself front-page in Andrew Rossi’s fascinating documentary on print journalism and its battle to survive in a contemporary climate of layoffs, cutbacks and new-media competition. Given full access to the institution and its newsrooms and corridors, Rossi tracks one year in the life of the Times’ media desk, one that featured moments both low—including a day in which over 100 staffers were laid off—and high. From WikiLeaks to Twitter, new modes of communication and journalism are brought to the forefront as challengers to the Gray Lady’s throne, but as one staffer notes, “Trees are still cut. Papers are still delivered.” At the film’s heart is Times columnist David Carr, a former drug addict who is both the paper’s strongest advocate and its most irascible, charismatic iconoclast; whether publishing an exposé on the Tribune Corporation’s internal issues or giving a bratty editor a verbal slap-down, he brings a down-to-earth humanity into such overarching issues as new versus old media, corporate control and journalistic integrity. Thanks to Carr and the other news hands interviewed here, Page One makes clear that whether it’s online or off, printed or downloaded, what matters—and what’s at stake—is good journalism.
Special support for this program generously provided by Visionary Circle member Susan Murdy.