Despite the occasional dodgy film, we have been so lucky to see so many quality films so far at the festival. Page One: A Year Inside The New Work Times, for me now however has definitely been a highlight. This is a serious slick, fun, enthralling and inspiring documentary that has been skilfully been put together with an incredible attention to detail.
As the title clearly suggests, this film offers a completely unprecedented look into the inscrutable New York Times newsroom for a year long period. With the Internet rapidly surpassing print as the world’s main source of news, and traditional newspapers and media outlets are going bankrupt left, right and centre, this film chronicles the media industry’s transformation from print to digital and also the industry’s reaction to game-changers such as the Apple iPad and WikiLeaks. The year was also full of dramatic changes, as internally the company struggled with massive cutbacks and lay-off’s, and outside of the office everyone debated it’s future within the public eye.
The film follows some amazing characters such as David Carr (an extremely intelligent and seriously witty columnist who overcame a crack addiction to become a world renowned reporter) and Brian Stelter (a young blogger come reporter who loves stirring up trouble) as they work behind the media desk, tracking the print industry and it slowly changes and evolves – which is ironic considering their own paper is seriously struggling to stay profitable and useful. Meanwhile, traditionally hardcore rigorous journalism -such as struggling and fighting for on-record quotes, animated debate and collaboration in between the office cubicles, and skilful pitching and negotiating for the page one spot – is all alive and well.
This film is fantastic – it really gives you such a unique insight into such an interesting and vibrant world that outsiders rarely get to see. Mixing sometimes hilarious, sometimes deadly serious interviews with fly-on-the-wall footage, archive footage and some very slick graphics – this film is very intelligently cut together. It’s the kind of film that you could watch for hours and hours – I would have been more than happy to sit in the theatre for another 60 minutes just to see what would come out of David Carr’s mouth. Probably my favourite part of the whole documentary was watching the debates between the traditional media outlets (such as The Times) and new media outlets, such as online aggregators and companies like Gawker (with their “Big Board”). This is certainly a relevant film – and is definitely worth checking out. I can’t wait for the sequel, as it’s going to be an extremely challenging and interesting few years for everyone at The Times as they struggle to get a viable pay-wall into place, and expand their business into new and exciting ways…