Page One: Inside The New York Times (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/09/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Frequently fascinating and consistently entertaining, this is a must-see for media junkies everywhere, thanks to an engaging cast of characters, some fortuitous timing on the part of the production and a series of topical, thought-provoking themes.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andrew Rossi, Page One: Inside the New York Times charts a year in the life of the offices of the New York Times, from the tail-end of 2009 through most of 2010. The timing couldn't have been better – Rossi's camera is on hand as the paper gets involved with the WikiLeaks story and reports on the collapse of the Tribune Company; it also captures the paper's adoption of Twitter, the launching of its iPad app and the implementation of a paywall in an attempt to adapt to the ever-changing media landscape.

Using a mostly observational style, Rossi hangs out in the office (behind camera), capturing editorial meetings and phone conversations; he also spends time with a handful of journalists and editors, most notably ex-drug addict-turned-old-school reporter David Carr, who's drily sceptical about new media (flicking pages on an iPad he snorts, “You know what this reminds me of? A newspaper”), though even he succumbs to Twitter midway through the film. Other notable characters include executive editor Bill Keller, enthusiastic blogger-turned-reporter Brian Stelter and fresh-faced Tim Arango, who volunteers to head to Iraq, while there are also talking head contributions from the likes of Carl Bernstein and The Wire's David Simon, himself an ex-journalist.

The Good
As one of Rossi's interviewees points out, the question of how long can the New York Times survive is a constant media talking point and tensions are extremely high, particularly in the wake of several recent paper closures. Sure enough, the cameras are there when the paper is forced to make 100 redundancies, while all the decisions involving the paywall or the iPad app have a make or break sense of urgency about them.

The Great
David Carr turns out to be something of a gift to the film: he's a genuinely fascinating character and as such he provides most of the film's best scenes, whether it's old fashioned story-chasing over the phone (it's particularly exciting watching him on the Tribune story), a hostile interview with the editors of Vice, bonding with Arango or utterly destroying a fellow speaker when he's asked to take part in a panel discussion entitled “Good riddance to mainstream media.” Worth seeing?
Page One is an engaging and frequently fascinating documentary that raises some thought provoking questions about the future of print media and should guarantee plenty of fodder for post-film pub discussion. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Page One: Inside The New York Times (15)
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Content updated: 12/12/2017 08:27

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