As the film Page One – Inside the NY Times made its way through the festival circuit this spring there was not a lot of noise made about the lack of females in the film. Anyone who saw the trailer noticed it immediately, but it didn’t become an issue until this week as the film rolls out, ironically, at the new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center which last week hosted a panel on the New Faces of Indie Film and only included a single woman in a sea of men.
Page One – which to me is a misleading title since the film is about the media department – is a fun film at times because the main character in the film is David Carr and his persona is as interesting as his writing. But it’s about 30 minutes too long and doesn’t fully work because the women are missing.
Media Editor Bruce Hedlam (and character in the film) said that he asked the two women (out of ten) who work in his department if they wanted to be in the film and they said no. He didn’t want to force them so the film’s director shot the people who agreed to be in the film — a bunch of white guys. As Hedlam said to NY: “there’s no end of powerful influential women at the New York Times.” Men, he joked, might have been more willing to do the film for the same reason that male politicians seem to get into more attention-grabbing scandals than female politicians: “Because we’re pigs.”
It’s a real shame and is clearly not a real portrait of the paper because as a NY Times spokesman said 40% of the people who work in the newsroom are women and there are several high level females working at the paper including the newly appointed Executive Editor Jill Abramson. While she was not in charge at the time of the film seeing her in a couple of scenes sitting virtually silent is still frustrating to watch.
So here’s this film which depicts an amazing time of upheaval for the newspaper business, one where many papers have folded and you see the Times fighting to stay alive. The film also highlights the unrelenting 24/7 news cycle, and has a great substory of a generational tug of war between David Carr and Brain Stelter the seasoned veteran who defends the Times with every breath in his being, and the young upstart former blogger who gets so frustrated that his colleagues are hours behind him in the news cycle. Even with all the great topics covered it still feels like the story is only half told because the women are missing.
I guess my question to the director is why would you move forward on the film in the first place if you were not going to get the full story? Documentaries document and this seems to be documenting just a piece of the puzzle and there are many missing pieces.
Here’s Why There Are (Almost) No Women In The Big NYT ‘Page One’ Documentary (Business Insider)