Page One: The New York Times Documentary

Thanks to Milwaukee Film I was able to attend a free screening of Page One: Inside the New York Times following the transformation of the newspaper industry from print to digital.

 

As newspaper readership has moved online and advertisers have all but abandoned print for the likes of Craigslist and Adsense revenue.  I have mixed feelings about the collapse of the newspaper industry,  while I’m old enough to appreciate newspapers and understand the value of having a physical copy delivered to your doorstep. I’m also young enough to realize the value of technology and citizen journalism.

I spent most of my tweens biking around our neighborhood delivering The Wisconsin State Journal.  It was rare for a house on any given block to not get a newspaper. I’d love to see the delivery route map of that same neighborhood today, I’m certain that it would be the opposite.

Technology has also changed the way we consume content. When I was still receiving a newspaper every morning I would read almost all the articles even if I wasn’t entirely interested in them because they were there and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished the paper on a Sunday afternoon.  Now I’m much more likely to scan the sexier headlines on Gawker and The Huffington Post than to read an in depth article on The New York Times. I would argue that this comes at the cost of being ill informed.

On top of that all of that content is aggregated, syndicated, remixed and mashed up from other sources mainly The New York Times!  So what happens when they have nothing to aggregate when there’s no infrastructure to pay for good reporting and hard news?  I’m afraid that’s a question that may be answered sooner or later.  I was skeptical about the paywall but by all accounts it seems to be working at least so far.  In my opinion news needs to be free or almost free to the consumer as the education and financial gap continues to widen.  It’s clear that left to our own devices we’re much more likely to click on a headline like this than this.

The film itself, was great.  Ever since Season 5 of The Wire (David Simon has a nice cameo in the film) I’ve had a fascination with the hard working men and women behind the news that are forced to do more with less.  The focus is placed on the duality of two reporters: the always entertaining David Carr (I highly recommend his book), an old school boots on the ground reporter and Brian Stelter, who made a name for himself in the digital wold before shifting to the print world. I hope you have a chance to see it when it comes to your town.

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