Page One: Inside The New York Times - DVD Review

'from the ashes of print media, Page One concocts an argument for why we need The New York Times of this world'

The concept of Page One: Inside The New York Times is embodied by 'old-style' journalist David Carr's semi-quipped assertion that 'new-style' journalist Brian Stelter is 'a robot assembled in the basement of The New York Times to come and destroy me'. Old-style journalists, old-style media as a whole, Page One suggests, did not see the bloggers, the twitterers, the aggregators coming; they did not adapt and now they face extinction. They face extinction at the hands of the Brian Stelter's of the media world.

If that was all Page One had to say then it would be a pretty good documentary artifact, charting the often inglorious fall of print media at the hands of readily accessible, often free, alternatives. As it is, Page One is an exceptional documentary because, from the ashes of print media, it concocts an argument for why we need The New York Times of this world, and it does so largely without having to resort to romanticised clich├ęs about tradition and 'good ol' fashioned journalism'.

Criticisms of Andrew Rossi's documentary could focus on the fact that no one news story is given any amount of focused time within the tight ninety-two minute runtime, or on the fact that it is perhaps twelve months too late to really hit the apex of print media's problems. The point missed here is that this is less a documentary about the action of journalism and more a documentary about journalism's evolving place in the modern world. The story isn't about the mechanics, the how, of The Times' partnership with Wikileaks, it is about the motivation, the whys, behind what drove The Times to take such a risk. Like a breaking news story, the emerging details are compelling, as are the arguments.

After all, as Carr suggests at one point, what are aggregators without news to aggregate? What are twitterers without news stories to link to? What is a story without a first hand source? A more accurate subtitle should perhaps have been In Defence Of Print Media. Agree or disagree with the stance, it's a superbly crafted argument that deserves front page coverage.

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'that the most inflamed anyone gets in this movie is when dealing with the navel-gazing of the media reporting on its own demise speaks to some of the problems traditional journalism is having in keeping an audience' - Not Just Movies, 3/5

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