Page One: Inside the New York Times is a time capsule of a struggle that won’t always exist. It’s a struggle between “old media” and “new media,” a tug-of-war built around the information age and social networking. Andrew Rossi’s documentary, which opens nationwide through this summer, gives its audience an unfiltered look inside what transpires when the most respected newspaper in America tries to hold onto that respect. The staff of The New York Times media desk is the appropriate focus, because they themselves are faced with covering the shifting floor of newsmakers and newsbreakers. All the while, these reporters and editors find a way to keep their heads above water while covering outlets that essentially compete with them (WikiLeaks, Vice Magazine, The Huffington Post, Gawker, etc.). A gift-wrapped delight for news junkies, Page One is also about universal issues impacting all businesses today: how does your established company survrive a boom in disruptive technology?
(Page One director Andrew Rossi at the New York Premiere of the film on Monday night, at Lincoln Center’s new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.)
The issues in Page One exist in the businesses of music, film, theater, television, tourism, and all kinds of communication. Experiencing this crisis through a legendary organization like The New York Times, helps put a lot into perspective about the way we treat the information we consume. While few information companies are better examples than the Times, few journalists are better to follow than columnist David Carr. He’s the protagonist of the film, a dedicated writer who not only defends the integrity of journalism but also does his best to adapt with the ways it can evolve. Rossi struck gold with Carr, and some of his great onscreen moments, but this isn’t some superficial documentary portrayal. David Carr is not simply a wisecracking fireball of charisma, he’s a walking and talking personification of the film’s deeper meaning. In framing the film around Carr’s journey, Rossi commands the same sort of layered reporting that Page One forces you to respect.