Page One:

Inside the New York Times

 

Page One: Inside the New York Times

Produced by Josh Braun, David Hand, Alan Oxman & Adam Schlesinger

Written & Produced by Kate Novack & Andrew Rossi

Edited by Chad Beck, Christopher Branca & Sarah Devorkin

Music by Paul Brill

Directed by Andrew Rossi

Initial screening @ Sundance: January, 2011

Limited USA release: June, 2011

 

Featuring New York Times Editors and Journalists:

David Carr

Bruce Headlam

Richard Perez-Peña

Brian Stelter

Bill Keller

Gay Talese

Alex S. Jones

David Remnick

Susan Chira

Tim Arango

Clay Shirkey

Ian Fisher

Noam Cohen

 

plus these contributors:

Sarah Ellison (Vanity Fair/Wall Street Journal)

Michael Hirschorn (The Atlantic)

Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation)

Julian Assange (WikiLeaks)

Nick Denton (Gawker)

Paul Steiger (ProPublica)

Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia)

Sam Zell (Tribune Company)

Carl Bernstein (Washington Post)

 

Production Studio:

Film: Participant Media & History Films

Video: Magnolia Home Entertainment

 

Video: 

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Region: A (locked)

Disc Size:  BD25

Feature Size: ca. 16 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate (20-30 Mbps)

Runtime: 91 minutes

Chapters: 11

 

Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish

 

Extras: 

• Carl Bernstein: In Defense of the Internet (3:20)

• Emily Bell: Keeping Journalism Relevant (1:50)

• Sarah Ellison: On Rupert Murdoch (4:05)

• Journalists React to “Page One” (3:00)

• Q&A Highlights with the Cast & Filmmakers (16:50)

• 5 Additional Scenes (21:30)

• Magnolia Trailers in HD

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case: BRD x 1

Street Date: October 18, 2011



Synopsis (Magnolia]:

In the tradition of great fly-on-the-wall documentaries, PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES deftly gains unprecedented access to The New York Times newsroom and the inner workings of the Media Desk. With the Internet surpassing print as our main news source and newspapers all over the country going bankrupt, PAGE ONE chronicles the transformation of the media industry at its time of greatest turmoil. Writers like Brian Stelter, Tim Arango and the salty but brilliant David Carr track print journalism’s metamorphosis even as their own paper struggles to stay vital and solvent. Meanwhile, their editors and publishers grapple with existential challenges from players like WikiLeaks, new platforms ranging from Twitter to tablet computers, and readers’ expectations that news online should be free.


     


But rigorous journalism is thriving. PAGE ONE gives us an up-close look at the vibrant cross-cubicle debates and collaborations, tenacious jockeying for on-the-record quotes, and skillful page-one pitching that produce the “daily miracle” of a great news organization. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of journalists continuing to produce extraordinary work—under increasingly difficult circumstances.

At the heart of the film is the burning question on the minds of everyone who cares about a rigorous American press, Times lover or not: what will happen if the fast-moving future of media leaves behind the fact-based, original reporting that helps to define our society?


     

 

Newsclips:

Salon:

“ODDLY EXCITING. It's full of juicy, chewy nuggets for journalists, journalist-haters and news junkies and makes a compelling case on behalf of the traditional values of journalism.” – Andrew O’Hehir

 

Entertainment Weekly:

“For journalism junkies, IT’S SIMILAR TO THE THRILL OF GLIMPSING THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum

 

Rolling Stone:

“A VITAL, INDISPENSABLE HELL-RAISER. Potent and provocative.” – Peter Travers


     

 

The Onion:

“An important document of the paper of record at a crucial, make-or-break juncture in its long, glorious history, and a love letter to the dying art form that is the great American newspaper.” – Nathan Rabin

 

Los Angeles Times:

“Though it's blessed with a strong subject and some memorable characters and situations, the drawback of this fitfully engaging documentary is that it can't settle on anything even close to a single theme or line of inquiry.” - Kenneth Turan

 

Variety:

“A fleet, timely assessment of the ongoing crisis in journalism. Its ideas will engross anyone for whom the viability of traditional newsgathering remains a matter of pressing significance.” – Justin Chang


     

 

Cinemablend:

"IF YOU CARE EVEN A BIT ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF MODERN MEDIA, PAGE ONE IS AN ESSENTIAL OVERVIEW OF WHERE THINGS STAND. Even 30 years from now, though, Page One will remain a vital and fascinating portrait of the news and the people who make it." - Katey Rich

 

Christian Science Monitor:

“With all the talk in Page One about the demise of print journalism and the rise of new media, this shiny spacious emporium seems like both a beacon and a staggering folly.” - Peter Rainer


     

 

Slate:

“A riveting film. a spirited defense of traditional print media in its year of greatest crisis.” – Tim Wu

 

Slate:

“The film spends too much time wringing its hands over the all-too-evident fact that journalism is in crisis, when it could be documenting that crisis from the inside.” - Dana Stevens

 

New York Times:

“Mr. Carr, with his tough language and sense of journalistic honor, puts an irresistible, personal face on an institution that for many remains its own mysterious force.” – Manohla Dargis


     

 

The Movie: 7

I am inclined to come down somewhere in the vicinity of the Kenneth Turan camp.  My advantage is that, except for what I learned from Season Five of The Wire, I am blessedly ignorant of what goes on in a newsroom.  In fact, I am the furthest thing from a news junkie. I do not check out the headlines first thing when I get up in the morning and I do not, and never have, watched late night news (which, by the way, I feel is not healthy for people who sleep at night.)  I rarely watch television news at any hour, and get almost all my information about what goes on in the world from public radio and various Internet sources.  Even so I found Page One to be an unexpected resource for on-line locations that I had not as yet discovered.


     

 

Returning to Ken Turan’s criticism for a moment, The Wire had certain advantages, among them the time and space to fully flesh out the scope of their subject. I recommend highly the Fifth Season of that series (even out of sequence) for anyone interested in how money and city (and, to a lesser extent, national) politics influences local media. Page One is a mere ninety minutes, and in that space, with David Carr as our guide and narrator for the most part, several topics that are delved into: Most prominent are the questionable Times’ “partnership” with WikiLeaks; the investigation into what evolved into the bankruptcy collapse of the Tribune Company (who reminded me of that episode in Star Trek about the monstrosity that went about the galaxy eating while planets); the value of Twitter - all the while asking whether or to what extent the kind of journalism that the New York Times (and other papers such as the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun) have stood for are worth saving. . . and if so, in what form.  Among the more interesting byways explored in that respect is the story of how blogger Brian Stelter became a part of the reporting staff at the NY Times. Even if the focus is broad and episodically formatted, the questions raised are provocative enough to engender discussion for its audience.


     

 

Image: (2)~8/9

My scoring seems a bit odd, I know.  The bottom line is that there is nothing amiss with this transfer that can’t be attributed to either the original source material - some, but not a great deal of which has been digitally reconstituted into HD from the shabbiest of news media sources - or the photography itself, and the result is occasionally frightful.  Close-ups in the main, on the other hand, where the background is not entirely blown out with strong backlight, are so well defined as to seem out of place - I suspect the effect is much less on non-projection systems. And there are a few instances of considerable noise in feature footage taken in dark rooms or clubs that are chock full of noise.  The offices and other spaces in the NY Times building look a trifle bright too me, but again this is what the photography saw, not how Magnolia rethought it.


     

 

Audio & Music: 7/8

Before I forget to mention it, I rather enjoyed Paul Brill’s tasteful, if worried music score, sparingly but tellingly used throughout the documentary.  It is here and with the ambience of the Times offices that the 5.1 mix has anything to say for itself.  Otherwise, I think the idea of surround channels for a film of this sort is a little silly.  In any case the dialogue is nicely captured and, whenever the filmmakers think we might not be able to make it out there are forced subtitles. A slight, but useful distraction.


     

 

Extras: 7

Magnolia supplies three editorials by leading figures in their fields.  They’re a bit short, but hit their relative nails sharply: These are by Carl Bernstein in his defense of the Internet and what he sees as the real threat to Journalism; Emily Bell, from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism talks about keeping journalism relevant; Sarah Ellison socks it to Rupert Murdoch in her take on what makes him tick.  Then there is a three-minute piece where journalists, mostly from the NY Times, offer their critique of Page One - it goes about as expected, with little actual critique and a good deal of worry.


     

 

Next up is a selection of hefty highlights from a Q&A during an event at the Lincoln Center with the Filmmakers and cast members, most notably David Carr. This is the piece where we learn what these bonus features have to say about the background and making of Page One.  Finally we have five additional segments, new and extended, from the feature film: NY Times Media & Tech Writers on “Cord-Cutting” (4:15); The Tex Tribune (2:20); Tim Arango with João Silva in Iraq (5:00); Josh Benton: American Newspapers in Transition (6:00); and David Carr Experiments with Web Videos at Home (3:30). As with all of the Extra Features, this group of scenes are presented in HD, though several are derived from what are obviously non-HD sources.


     

 

Recommendation: 8

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary.  I felt buoyed by the passionate and dedicated concern expressed and was able to consider dispassionately the various critiques of print journalism that came from rebels representing instant news – or, as I like to call it “instant data” – I feel it cannot properly be called “information” unless it is in some way pre-digested – thus journalism, print or otherwise.


     

 


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

October 6, 2011



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