Anyone who has ever been even slightly interested in the manufacturing and printing of newspapers will be delighted by the opening sequence in Page One. The basic, rudimentary goings on of a newspaper printing press sees the calm before the storm. Everything has been written, but has yet to hit the stands. It exists in a liminal space, waiting to be consumed by the hundreds of thousands of people who buy the paper daily.
Page One sees director Andrew Rossi look into the offices of the long running broadsheet The New York Times. Established in 1851, the Times has had a long standing reputation of being one of the most successful newspapers ever. The film attempts to provide a behind the scenes look of the paper as it faces the threat and repercussions of a constant online portal of information: the Internet. With other major papers closing left, right and centre, the point is salient, but there is so much more that could have been said.
In true Times style, a self-aggrandisement section appears early in the film, where various honchos from the paper’s past and present proclaim its glorious historical standing. Unsurprisingly, the film presents the Times as a venerable place to work and it is easy to get caught up in this logic. While we get a brief foray into the history of the paper, it is the foreboding nature of the future that surrounds the majority of the film.
As other papers suffer losses and close up, the effect of economic losses are briefly shown with job losses at the Times. This moment in the film feels a matter of survival for the staffers. However, we quickly move on from those who lost their jobs and our eyes are kept focused on the remaining players.
As The September Issue made a hero out of fashion editor Grace Coddington, Page One presents a renegade hero in David Carr. A former crack addict, Carr now writes as a media reporter for the Times. His insistent personality and striking physical presence represents one of the many voices that stand up to the notion of dying broadsheets. He convincingly tells his case and was clearly the audience favourite in the second sold out screening that I attended, and this is deservedly so. There are other editors and reporters who share some good screen time, but the fly-on-the-wall aspect relates only to a small section of the newspaper.
It is a pity that more sections of the paper were not focused on. We managed to hear only one sentence from the new Managing Editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to hold this title. In fact, most voices that we hear in the film come from men. So much more could be said in this film. I too, could also write so much more about this film, its strengths and weaknesses and my view on the general state of the media. But much like the film’s extremely enjoyable 88 minutes, I will keep it as concise as possible.
Page One: Inside the New York Times will be released through Madman Entertainment.