Page One: Inside the New York Times is not a documentary about a day in the life of a newspaper. Instead, it is more social commentary from the New York Times’ media desk about the current state of newspapers, their antagonizing relationship with news aggregators and social media, and a bit forlorn about how robust the New York Times used to be compared to their current staffing levels based on the combined loss of ad revenue and print subscriptions. The majority of this film focuses on the paper’s media section, specifically on the cantankerous journalist David Carr, a former crack addict now social media watchdog. He frequently goes to conferences and events to defend his newspaper against social media sites who proclaim the death of news print and the inevitable rise of the internet news leviathan. Unfortunately for them, David Carr fights backs with some old common sense. In the most effective scene, he holds up a hardcopy of Newser’s front page showing all of the news aggregated links on it. His next exhibit has all of the links cut out of it which were ‘stolen’ from the mainstream media making the Newser’s front page look absolutely ridiculous and full of holes for all to see.
Too bad for the film’s audience though, David Carr comes across as more of an a**hole for most of the film and you welcome to other locales and issues the documentary focuses on when it’s not on Carr. There are scenes of employee layoffs, contrite apologies about Judith Miller and Jayson Blair, and the continuing defense that without the large, networked mainstream media, these new social media / news aggregator sites would have nothing to link to on their websites. These professional at-home bloggers do not have bureaus in Baghdad, stringers in war zones, and in an amusing side bit, they do not have people following their hometown zoning boards either.
Page One is effective at showing the audience that hardcopy newspapers are not dead yet and they still provide a considerable service to those who wish to remain informed. Regrettably, the film spends way too much time on David Carr and the media section which bogs down the film and makes the audience wait for the next segment not involving Carr.