Understanding how a newsroom works is fairly important to the work I do. I’ve been to a couple, but I’ve yet to experience something as headstrong and fast-paced as The New York Times’ newsroom. Page One: Inside the New York Times showcases not just how a newsroom operates, with unprecedented, personal access to those involved in the process of writing and telling a story, but shows the shift from print to the rise of social media and online work. When the end comes for print media entirely, nobody knows, but this documentary from Andrew Rossi captures the revolution social media has become, and how large print papers have been slow to adapt to the necessary, inevitable changes.
Rossi gets to grips with a good rundown of how The New York Times operates, how it adapts to breaking news and the decisions it makes for its front page. There are never moments where integrity is breached for either The Times or Rossi, but there are moments that feel like filler. It’s somewhat inevitable, but there are larger chunks that lose their way. We move away from the newsroom and toward such widely different strands of journalism. All well and good in giving us a scope of style, but empty when it comes to showcasing how it impacts the central point which our secondary stories revolve around.
Much of it is rather poor quality, using the extensive history of The New York Times as padding for a feature that doesn’t have much wind in its sails. Rossi attempts to capture the scandals, the tough times, and the inevitable highs that follow such long droughts. He does manage some truly amazing moments; the staff cuts are captured with an emotive core necessary to carry a scene of this calibre. But many scenes are shown and included for the sake of it, padding for a narrative that could, if chipped down to its essentials, be told in twenty minutes or so. Less about how the newsroom operates, more about the many strands of journalism The New York Times cover.
The New York Times has been a standard for publishing some memorable stories, a flagbearer for fighting against injustice and power trips in government or business. It’s a sad shame to see it’s been on the brink for some years now, that bastion of hope grows ever dimmer, but Page One: Inside the New York Times is a mixed bag that throws a lot of different leads at us and never manages to conclude any of them. It’s an always shifting story, sure, I understand that’d be rather difficult to capture, but there’s no excuse for the rather problematic and erratic way this information is presented to us. Well worth suffering through the low points, especially since it’s the only documentary that looks to capture anything remotely similar to how a newsroom can make or break the livelihood of a paper.