Film | Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011)

New York Times has long been an integral part of the American culture, so much so that its importance has been felt across the world when it comes to hardcore news reporting.

It’s iconic status is evident from the fact that no matter where in the world you are from, if in New York, there is a good chance you will take a picture outside their office building. 

New York Times, just like most of the newspaper publishing industry, has also been fighting a battle for survival, and it is this premonition by many, of the demise of the newspaper. that forms the premise of the documentary. 

Page One looks at the changing digital world that has led to news being easily available and more importantly for free. It asks the question of how credible is information today where stories and news can be self published and shared via social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook and the numerous “online newspapers”?

The documentary puts forth the survival mode that newspaper agencies are in at present because of this digital revolution leading to loss of advertisement and hence much needed income.

Page One is also an inside look at the New York Times and presents a somewhat simplistic view into news reporting with board meetings to decide on what should go on page one of the paper. There still is pressure on journalists to get the news out and fast and also to get featured on the front page, but the intensity and passion they feel doesn’t come across in the documentary. Instead, Page One tries to prove a point about the importance of reporting the classical way.

Covering different aspects from the last decade or so, Page One at times feels a bit dated with the news that is featured in the documentary. The breakthrough of WikiLeaks and how NYT along with two other international papers help release the information forms an important part of the documentary as does the exposé they did on the Tribune Company or the coverage of the war in the Middle East.

Watching the film a few years after its release, these stories have become so much a part of the media that they no longer have that same shock value they once did. We now live in a world where it takes a lot to truly shakeup the reader, and watching the documentary in the years to come, it just might not have the same impact, in terms of the news that is featured, as it would have around the time of its release. In short, it lacks longevity. 

Page One also tiptoes around the big blunders that rocked the newspaper especially the wrongful reporting that took place around Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. What does come across as positive is that even after being diehard supporters of the newspaper, the NYT journalists featured in the documentary feel the same way about the misrepresentation that took place as did the common public.

Page One ends with a change in newspaper publishing. With the release of iPad and with NYT now charging to gain complete access to their website, there still might be a chance for publishing houses to sustain themselves in this volatile economy after all.  

Page One: Inside the New York Times is a documentary that touches upon a number of issues being faced by the publishing giant, but fails to explore anything specific in detail. It feels incomplete and lacks the in-depth analysis that any journalist working at New York Times would want in his/her article.

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