Last week, the Phoenix Chapter PRSA held a gathering for a new documentary “Page One,” a documentary that sheds light on the operations and recent trends at The New York Times while also sparking a variety of key discussion in the height of our digital vs. print age.
While HMA could not attend, our good friend – and APR – Liam O'Mahony went and had some great thoughts based on the film. He’s been nice enough to share them below.
Take it away, Liam! What did you think?
It made me realize I don’t read the venerable NYT near enough, though I do enjoy perusing through the “Sunday Bundle” for the business, A&E and Sunday Magazine, so I don’t profess to be a New York Times connoisseur.
The film is part NYT propaganda machine (in the vein of CBS’s “Undercover Boss” that stumps for the profiled company in each episode) and part social media dissection of how news is gathered and disseminate. It lends more fuel to the debate of “Where Does Print Go From Here?” Since the NYT has long been viewed as the last bastion of all that was righteous about traditional journalism, it is somewhat humbling for veteran staff when they were faced with the few high-profile, black-eye incidents from recent years that are included in the narrative.
As it is a video showcase to open up the NYT to the rest of the world (who may have the picture in their minds of a dark, vast, bustling news room), the documentary pulls back the proverbial office curtain to show the editorial office as a bright, colorful, social forum with a welcoming town hall lobby-esque center stairwell. It almost looks like a department store
David Carr, the gruff, blunt and colorful “gumshoe” reporter steals the show. His commentary and interactions with subjects over the phone are priceless. This guy should go on a spoken word tour or get his own talk show. The other staff portrayed are likeable as well, there is the prodigious blogger who makes his way to the dark side as a true reporter when the Times snags him, there is the ambitious reporter who heads off to Iraq and is soon promoted to be the bureau news chief.
The chronicling of events from the last three years make the movie a very newsworthy ride, bringing us all up to speed (as if many of us weren’t already?) in the current digital media world that continues to excel and accelerate, albeit through the often self-righteous lens of the NYT. This is an underlying theme amidst the digital discussion that other subjects (i.e. rival publications, bloggers, media critics) in the film also try to bring to the surface. Thus, you are left with the sense that even the oldest and most trusted of old dogs are forced to learn new tricks, or at least adapt to the new environment that has encroached on its long sacred turf as The Source for news.
If you read the NYT daily or never touch it, you should still see this for what the value of news has meant to the public over the years, the ethics involved for those delivering the news and how even seemingly unblemished institutions can fall from grace at times. Carr’s candor and humor keep the tale moving at a riveting pace toward its ultimate end – a not-so-subtle plug for the NYT’s online paid subscription model.
And so it is, “All The Tweets That’s Fit To Print.”