Today: February 27, 2024
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Page One

Anyone who travels on London public transport would find it hard to believe that newspapers are a dying breed as copies of The Metro and The Evening Standard are abandoned/shared on bus, train and tube seats morning and evening. You will rarely see a copy of any of the broadsheets left to keep them company, mainly because they cost good money.

Anyone who travels on London public transport would find it hard to
believe that newspapers are a dying breed as copies of The Metro and The
Evening Standard are abandoned/shared on bus, train and tube seats
morning and evening. You will rarely see a copy of any of the broadsheets left
to keep them company, mainly because they cost good money.

Regardless of your
political bias, when it comes to newspaper journalism, you really do get what
you pay for. Good journalism doesn’t come cheap but bad journalism comes with a
price as News International is
finding out with the closure of News of the World and the
millions it has to pay out in compensation as a result of the phone hacking
scandal. The irony is, it was a newspaper that brought down a government
because of phone tapping with the Watergate scandal and now a newspaper has
been brought down for the same practice.

However, it is not
just dubious practices that are seeing the end of newspapers. The rise of the
Internet has proved to be something of a double-edged sword for the print
medium. The dissemination of information is happening at an increasingly rapid
pace, with bloggers and Twitter at the forefront, breaking stories even faster
than the rolling news TV channels, although the information is not always
verifiable, it is usually coming from on-the-ground witnesses – the citizen
journalists. So where does this leave the old-school journos, who have been romanticised
in Hollywood films, from The Front Page/His Girl Friday through to All
the President’s Men
and Zodiac, as well as in Superman and Spider-Man comics? This is what is explored in the documentary Page
One: Inside The New York Times
.

This veritable
bastion of journalistic integrity, like most print media, has suffered at the
hands of falling advertising, falling sales and the occasional scandal of its
own, yet it continues to survive, mostly thanks to its dedicated and tenacious
staff, particularly those who are willing to embrace the new technologies
without abandoning the old. The most outspoken of these has to David Carr, who really is the star of
this doc, just as Ameena Matthews is the star of The Interruptors – if
docs can have stars.

Watching this film
in a screening room full of journalists, of all ages, does give something of a
distorted view of an audience reaction. There was a lot of sage nodding of
heads as comments and experiences shown on the screen reflected our own, which
does make you wonder if we are the target audience and of how much interest it
is to the man on the street. On the other hand, all the recent scandals
involving the press may pique the general public’s interest into what really
goes on behind the scenes at a newspaper, and while The New York Times may not be familiar to UK audiences (its
closest equivalent would be The
Guardian, which it shared the Wikileaks story with), it is still a
fascinating insight into what could well be a dying institution, and one that
Murdoch is never likely to give permission to do unless it was for a PR
exercise.

With the
continually growing roster of feature docs showing in cinemas, this is another
one that shows that factual films can entertain and inform without the need to
stoop to the sensationalism of reality TV.

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