Saturday, 18 June 2011
I will be honest I was expecting this film to be like The September Issue which I suppose was rather unfair as we are talking about a very glamorous industry while the newspaper business is very dry. The fact that this documentary has grabbed the attention of all the media folks speak volumes. Yesterday Gawker even hosted a screening for its staff which took place on their roof garden. Page One is a fly on the wall documentary that follows the staff on The New York Times for a whole year and watches them not just battle to find breaking stories but also struggling to keep their head above water during harsh economic times. The New York Times which has always been revered by hacks from huge media outlets such as NBC who would consult the paper every morning before starting work. Well you don't win 100 Pulitzer Prizes (more than any other news organisation) for nothing. Nowadays the paper has been served with a double whammy; the likes of Monster.com homing in on job ads and directories like Craigslist and Gumtree taking over the classified ads, combine that with upstarts such as Gawker and The Huffington Post offering an alternative viewpoint. The much loved New York Times is on pretty shaky ground having to make redundancies in order to avoid going the same way as several major newspaper around the country.
TVnewser which got him headhunted by the publication, Tim Arrango who is a media specialist and roving reporter, Bruce Headlam who is the media editor and last but not least media columnist, David Carr who is the rock and roll guy. There has been a lot of buzz about David Carr due to his rather wild past and there is no doubt that he is the Grace Coddington of the film. Filmmakers Andrew Rossi and Kate Novack gained access to the paper where they followed the media desk working on stories and lobbying top editors to have a presence on page one. The timing couldn't have been better because hot topics such as the Pentagon papers, troops in Iraq and Wikileaks broke during this time as well as ironically the launch of the iPad. It was also pretty smart of the producers to concentrate on the media desk considering that The New York Times is being usurped by new media itself. One thing that Page One did leave me with is a reminder of what real gritty journalism is, something that has been forgotten in the midst of fast food news. While viewing the offices of the publication one thing that struck me was the long and rich history that it and every other newspaper in the world has and that is one advantage that it holds against digital publishers.
I watched Page One at a screening from the Open City London Film Festival which took place last week.
Page One is out on release now in the US and hits the UK in September.
Check out the website for Page One.