Review: Page One: Inside The New York Times

Monday, May 2 by
 

Page One: Inside the New York Times does show yo the office of the Times and how the editors and reporters work, but really it’s about how print media has to change with the times. From editors and reporters at the Times to competitors and media analysts, the film presents all the important debates of the new media age.

Times’ editors address the effectiveness of instant publication, namely WikiLeaks vs. The Pentagon Papers and Watergate. Newspapers made those historical scandals major public events. However, social media gets them in the new instantly. I found it interesting the effect that 2nd tier region newspaper closings have on the Times’ credibility.

New York Times media columnist David Carr becomes the rock star of the movie. He is completely in charge when he’s working on a story. Watching him take Tribune Media to task for their sexual harassment scandal and schooling Vice online newbies about real journalism, I want to be his groupie.

More importantly, Carr defends the Times against critics. At interactive seminars from the South by Southwest festival, Carr has an answer for the Daily Kos and Newser.com approach to reporting and aggregating. Carr has a humorous take on Twitter, but slowly saw its value just like I grudgingly did.

Brian Stelter speaks for the modern media upstarts because he went from blogging to a print post at the Times. Most analysts agree that print media has to adapt to stay relevant but it’s not about cutting the print edition completely. As the film points out, Monster.com and Craigslist didn’t spell the end of the classified or personals sections, so there is a way to integrate it all.

These are the issues that spoke most to me, and there are more. Most importantly is the fact that information isn’t free. We’ve assumed that for a while and that’s wrong. A wide acceptance of that notion will shake up the free website model, and might hurt my business, but it’s got to be addressed.

That does look like a mighty expensive office they have there. They probably could make do with a smaller, less flashy space and have some staff work from home. Seeing the 2009 layoffs are brutal and emotional. Even Carr calls out the hubris of the print industry when they assumed they were untouchable, and other analysts suggest they’re still not pessimistic enough. Still they offer solutions and compromise.

As for how the Times itself works, we see the A1 meeting where editors decide what goes on the front page. People who know journalism are asking the right questions and their writers are answering those questions. The editors seem reasonable when they negotiate word count and space allotted per story. Yes, they apologize for the Jayson Blair scandal too.

Even though each one is only touched upon, the film packs every issue in. That’s good. Cast a wide net to prompt the audience to consider every factor, and then we can explore each one in depth on our own. I’ll take the economic model of paygate vs. iPad. You take the Pro Publica funding of investigative journalism.

Do you like this story?

More about...