Want to know what goes on inside The New York Times?
I can’t say I did.
Honestly, I just never gave it much thought. But that changed after watching Andrew Rossi’s latest documentary, Page One: Inside The New York Times, at the Cinematheque on Friday.
Now I just want to run up to the New York Times Building on Park Row and give it a big ‘ol kiss. I’m the nervous flier; it’s the airport tarmac.
I’m guessing that was Rossi’s intention.
A “lovefest” it’s being called. But what’s wrong with that?
This documentary is enough to make some of you divorce your twitter accounts and take up with an old friend – the printed newspaper.
Crazy talk, I know. But hear me out.
In Page One we’re confronted with the stark contrast between the young Brian Stelter, the Times’ resident social media savant and David Carr, a reporter with a raspy voice, Ray-Ban sunglasses, and what appears to be a distaste for web-reliant news sources.
By the end of the documentary, which was shot throughout 2010, Carr is an admitted Twitter convert.
According to Carr, what’s the real value of Twitter? “Listening to a wired, collective voice.”
And the voice of this former drug addict is one I could have listened to for hours more. The film pivots around Carr and a few other members of Times’ reporting and editing staff, but Carr is the real hero for this institution.
Putting his obvious journalistic smarts aside for a moment, David Carr is the one that keeps you watching and thinking the entire 1 ½ hours of the documentary. This man is anything but dry – though at certain points you feel the urge to reach through the screen and hand him a cough candy.
Here’s a rundown of 7 THINGS I LEARNED from Page One: Inside The New York Times.
Thanks in no small part to David Carr.
1) Julian Assange, founder of the controversial WikiLeaks, made a name for himself as a hacker. Shocking, isn’t it?
2) There is a chip implanted in the staff at The New York Times called “New York Times Exceptionalism.” At least, according to David Carr.
3) The “New York Times Effect” depends on analogue paper distribution. The way I understand it, if something is one the cover of the Times one day, it’s on the cover “second tier” papers the next.
4) David Carr can vaporize people. Using only his words.
5) The effect of the recession on the Times is the mood pervading the newspaper business. The New York Times is a general interest paper. “We try to be the best at everything.” So a recession means that skills the paper can afford to lose are lost. “We have to dump bodies overboard.”
6) Putting reporters into war zones requires an infrastructure be in place to support them when they’re gone and when they get back home. This costs money. Does this mean we should give the Times a break about its website Paywall?
7) The New York Times literally has a round table. Twice a day the editors meet and decide on the next day’s headlines. The table’s actually more oval, but you get the point.
I leave you with my favourite quote from Page One:
“Is there anything I should know before I check my messages?” – Media Editor Bruce Headlam to David Carr
Watch the documentary, you’ll get it.