Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
Not long ago, a headline in The Onion read, ‘Report: Majority Of Newspapers Now Purchased By Kidnappers To Prove Date’. It’s not quite as bad as that, but the plight at which the satirical paper is poking fun is very real for newspapers across the western world, and it sits at the centre of the insightful Page One: Inside the New York Times. As the daily ‘fight to get on A1’, the hallowed front page, plays out, Andrew Rossi plants his camera for the most part at the Times’s media desk. It is a good place from which to watch the Gray Lady, as the world’s most famous newspaper is known, and the industry as a whole, grapple with the twin demons of advertising decline and digital revolution – leaving, in the words of one editor, ‘a culture that is having what we do completely ripped open’.
The exploits of two species of ‘hack’ – the chippy, old-school media columnist David Carr and his Twittertastic colleague Brian Stelter – show them to be as indispensable as each other.
Along the way, the film touches on a host of subjects that make journalists lie awake at night. There is an eyebrow-raising telephone conversation between Stelter and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange (and a debate about whether Assange should be classed as partner or source); discussion of the Times’s struggle to retain its ‘paper of record’ status in the wake of the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal; and, much more gravely, the journalism of Judith Miller that propped up the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Throughout, of course, runs the biggest question of the lot – how do you pay for it all? — TM
“Slick, fun, and surprisingly sexy.” — John Lopez, Vanity Fair