Page One is a compelling and revealing look in to one year at the New York Times; the Old Grey Lady. By dumb luck, the documentary is filmed during an incredible and controversial time at the paper. During a round of layoffs, as the news world crumbles around their feet causing people to question whether the paper can survive, and during the publishing of the wikileaks of secret government cables; the viewer gets an unfiltered look in to the behind-the-scenes goings on at the paper.
The film really centers around David Carr, a journalist for the NYT. David is a compelling character to center the film around. He is outspoken, unapologetic, and profound in his writing. David, after years of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and dark times in his life, shines as a traditional reporter in the new media world. The documentary covers the Media Desk, which was created to follow the changes in the media and new industry, including what was happening at the NYT.
It is a fascinating study in the changes in news-gathering, which includes film from symposium about news, and how many new media figureheads seem to resent the NYT and big newspapers for a perceived lack of credibility, which David Carr takes an exception to, and at one presents a web front page from one of the aggregate sites, with all the stories taken from big newspapers cut out…there wasn’t much content left.
David is a great protagonist for the film, the look in to story pitch meetings, and real news gathering, trying to get confirmation on stories, get people to go on record, and the minutia of doing proper journalism which seems to occur mostly through a series of tedious phone calls.
The documentary is fascinating. As a “writer,” I found it to be truly provocative, exciting, and a fascinating look in to the back room hard work that goes on to make a daily publication such as this happen. There are great retrospectives in to some scandals the NYT has endured to compromise its integrity, a little history, and a daily walk through reporting and getting copy from a journalist’s desk to the front page.
It comes from some of the people behind Waiting For Superman; Food, Inc.; and An Inconvenient Truth. Though you can argue that there is a liberal bias to these earlier films, there is enough stark fact and truth to keep it from feeling too much like an agenda-bent film. I highly suggest a look in to the film to see what work goes in to the words, and to maybe make you reconsider your potentially toxic distaste for “lame-stream” media.
Page One is available for online streaming on Netflix, so pop it in to your queue.