Sunday, August 7, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Page One: Inside the New York Times

Director: Andrew Rossi
Writers: Kate Novack, Andrew Rossi
Stars: David Carr, Carl Bernstein and Bruce Headlam
Rated: R

People talk about freedom of information, but information really isn't free. Someone's got to pay for the gathering of that information, producing the information into stories that your Grandma can understand, formatting the stories for print or the web, publishing that information.

Over the past forty years, we've had a revolution in the transfer of information. Back in 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, it took him several months to get these documents to the various press outlets. He had to deal with the cost of copying, then mailing the documents around to the chosen outlets. After the New York Times received those documents, their reporting staff had to verify the information contained within them as bad they could.

Last year, when Julian Assange of Wikileaks released even more information about governments, diplomats, etc, the release of the information was nearly instant. All the material was digital and could be sent to the New York Times via computer. The only delay in reporting this information came from the paper's staff doing the best they could to censor so they could protect people in sensitive positions.

Originally, advertisements paid for the all the preparation of news materials. Now many Internet sites such as Monsterboard, Edmonds, and direct retailer sites have thinned down the ads even in the Sunday editions.

So, are newspapers dead? The staff of the New York Times explores this thesis in a fascinating documentary that's well worth a watch for anyone who's intrigued by media. On-the-street reporter, David Carr, took the lead in this story. Carr's a middle-aged man who's a former cocaine addict and single parent on Welfare. He also managed to defy the odds by getting his job at the Times at 52, when most reporters are burned out.

Filming of Page One began before any one of the paper's staff knew that there would be massive layoffs. The film covered this event in heartbreaking detail. What they reveal about the newspaper business is fascinating and still very newsworthy.

I am not a fan of most documentaries, but I'd be glad to see Front Page again. The information presented was done in a compelling manner and the cast kept me watching.

Rebecca Kyle, August 2011

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