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PAGE ONE: A YEAR INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES
USA: Magnolia Pictures
Cast: David Carr, Tim Arango, Brian Stetler, Bruce Headlam
Director: Andrew Rossi
USA & UK: 91 mins
USA Rated: R for language including some sexual references
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language and sex references
USA Release Date: 17 June 2011 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 23 September 2011 (Limited Release)
"This year, the biggest story is their own."
Director Andrew Rossi camped out at the media desk of The New York Times for 14 months. Trust me, a chronicle of the day to day activities of out-of-shape journalists ordinarily would be like watching grass grow. But Rossi had timing on his side: he shot while the newspaper was struggling through a print decline that hobbled circulation and advertising. Rossi was on hand when the paper laid off 100 reporters. "The concept of the film was I followed editors and reporters on the media desk as they covered stories about changing technology as the paper itself underwent tumultuous change and layoffs because of that technology," Rossi said.
Through the years, the fly-on-the-wall documentary has taken us on the presidential campaign trail, into the foxholes of war and behind the curtain with performers. In the spirit of that tradition, PAGE ONE goes inside the newsroom at The New York Times during one of the most tumultuous eras for journalism since the printing press was invented to reveal a disarmingly candid portrait of the paper of record.
Over the course of a year when WikiLeaks and Twitter emerged as household names and publications like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Washington Post either folded or significantly reduced their operations, director Andrew Rossi gains unprecedented access to the country's preeminent news factory. Can the foot soldiers of this bastion of old media keep up with the fire hose of information that is the world wide web?
Inside the Times newsroom, journalists on the media desk grapple with the implications of their paper's decision to work with whistleblower Julian Assange, the collapse of traditional models for network television and print advertising, challenges to the Times' authority in the wake of reporting failures during the run up to the war in Iraq and the emergence of the blog voice in the pages of the Gray Lady as exemplified by writers David Carr and Brian Stelter.
Meanwhile, they continue to uphold the values of the old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting that's now on the endangered list. What emerges in the page-one meetings, spearheaded by executive editor Bill Keller, and on the ground with reporters, is an intimate portrait of highly skilled journalists practicing their craft while the sky falls all around them, still hoping that readers will stick with them, even if their work ends up behind a pay wall.