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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Page One Looks at Changing Face of Newspapers

Written by Kirk Baird

Working in newspapers most of my adult life, I acknowledge I have a soft spot for print journalism and I fear for its future. I don’t think newspapers are going away, as so many other doomsayers predict; rather, they are changing. Perhaps my fear is for the unknown of what that transformation will be.

The entertaining and engaging documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times is an admirable effort in putting faces to this mounting industry crisis, as major newspapers are losing money and shuttering or slashing staff to keep the presses going.

To examine this problem, filmmaker Andrew Rossi turned his camera to the leading light in U.S. newspapers, The New York Times, and specifically its new Media Desk, a department created to report the transformation of journalism amid the changes from the Internet and social media.

As with any newspaper, there are colourful characters at the Times, none more so than David Carr, a fair, thorough, and tough-minded media reporter and columnist who is a recovering cocaine addict. After surviving the depths of despair in his own life, it’s hardly surprising that Carr is also the most optimistic in the film about the survival of The New York Times and print journalism as a whole.

Equally fascinating to those who haven’t worked in a newsroom will be the excitement Rossi builds as Carr works to report a damaging expose of the upper-management culture and climate at the Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Orlando Sentinel, among others, and its new ownership.

As Page One: Inside the New York Times suggests, the debate about the future of journalism will rage as it has for decades. Media is an industry constantly in flux. And while experts have differing opinions on what changes new media will bring, everyone is in agreement that a world without newspapers would be a bleak one indeed.

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