Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Page One’ presses for print appreciation

By Taylor C. Snow

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Andrew Rossi’s behind-the-scenes documentary takes the viewer on a unique journey through the hardship and turmoil that The New York Times is currently facing. “Page One: Inside The New York Times” follows the lives of four completely different journalists, all working on the media desk, as they consistently deal with the threat of a newspaper Armageddon.

Chris Shores/Collegian

Focusing prominently on David Carr, a former cocaine addict and current media and culture columnist for the Times, the film follows him as he admirably stands behind the long-standing newspaper, frequently persisting that that it will not go out of business anytime soon.

With the increasing popularity of the internet – which provides a user with all the information under the sun, available with a mere click of a mouse – the film addresses that many are not optimistic about the future of The New York Times as a newspaper. When asked if he fears the demise of the paper, Carr responds, “The only things I fear are guns and bats. I’ve been a cocaine addict and a single parent on welfare, and you’re asking me if I fear the fall of The Times?”

Viewers are brought back in time throughout the film, to recent vital events that the Times has been involved in, such as its relationship with WikiLeaks, the impact Twitter has had on newspapers and the unavoidable layoffs that have occurred in order to stay within budget restrictions.

In one scene, journalist and digital media theorist, Jeff Jarvis, gives his thoughts on what he thinks will eventually become a crash-and-burn situation for The Times.

“Newspapers are dead now,” said Jarvis. “However, the news is still very much alive.”

Jarvis’ claim is supported sporadically in the film as it displays how new technological ideas continue to expand, making it easier for news readers to drop the tangible paper and open up their portable Web-browser to explore whatever news they desire.

Despite the negativity that the Times faces inside and out, Rossi clearly takes the initiative to demonstrate that good journalism is not a given talent and that the lucky few who work for The Times are the best in the business. They achieved success due to their dedication and hard work. This is evident, especially with one of the featured journalists, Tim Arango. Initially, Arango is a rookie Times journalist who is just getting his feet wet. He later travels to Iraq with the intention of producing truthful, hard news that the public can rely on. There are many online bloggers that criticize a war that they have not experienced. In response, the Times sent over the ambitious Arango to be a primary source with factual input towards the war overseas.

“Page One” provides viewers with insight into the competitive and strong-hearted approach that The New York Times is taking during harsh times for printed news. For aspiring journalists, it is a critical film to see, as it can make or break their desire for a career in journalism.

University of Massachusetts journalism professor David Perkins took his introduction to journalism class to the auditorium in Bartlett Hall Monday evening in hopes that the young students would understand the critical role The Times is taking in order to preserve traditional media values.

“My hope is that [the students] take away with them, the understanding that there is a lot of crucial knowledge, value, and wisdom stored in news organizations, such as the Times,” said Perkins. “They need to see how the Times is dealing with modern news and it is good to show them the excitement of newspaper reporting in all platforms.”

Students of Perkins left the auditorium with a whole new perception on modern media. UMass junior Genna Samander, an aspiring journalist walked out having just discovered a new light on the media world.

“I thought it was an awesome insight to the world of journalism,” said Samander. “I never looked at The Times and the media the way I do now.”

Whether you are a journalist, a writer or just a general news junkie, “Page One” is a must-see, as it provides a unique behind-the-scenes pass to the lives of the relentless New York Times staff, as they attempt to keep the press up and running for the current and future generations.

Taylor Snow can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Snow.

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