Newspapers as we knew them are dead. Well, at least that’s what we keep hearing. The New York Times begs to differ. 'Page One: Inside the New York Times' is an eye-opening look at what really goes on in the world’s most powerful newspaper. They’ve been hit by layoffs and steep drops in advertising dollars, but they’re still going strong reporting the news, and they still have bull dog reporters that will dig up the stories.
This documentary is the chronicling of a year-long period (2010) of what goes on behind the scenes at the Times. Their ups and downs are put on display for everyone to see, from trying to weather the storm of one of their reporters being caught for plagiarism to uncovering the corruption that was happening at the Tribune Company.
We meet a few of the newsroom regulars, one of which is David Carr. Carr is a once convicted felon who walks like he’s about to keel over at any moment and talks like he has throat cancer. He was hired at the paper to report about the changing environment in the media -- where media was going and what companies were doing to adapt to the new technology that’s always coming out. He’s also a staunch supporter of The New York Times. Some of the best parts of the movie come when Carr berates bloggers and online journalists for claiming that the Times is dead or dying.
Here we get to see, first hand, the way news is investigated and reported. We get to see reporters follow through with stories, and figure out what’s really going on despite reports to the contrary. An underlying storyline throughout the movie has to do with the Times relationship with Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. It’s an interesting subplot to follow because Wikileaks embodies the new kind of media. Gobs of information are at our fingertips and with the click of the mouse we can read what once were classified documents about the war.
'Page One' also provides us with a recorded account of how the news business is changing. We watch as teary-eyed employees of the famous newspaper leave voluntarily because the company is going to have to lay off 100 employees. We hear the horror stories of ad revenue and stock prices dipping to record lows. We experience the reality that the internet has created a world where people think everything should be free. We observe in horror when the crew visits the Gawker headquarters and looks at their board featuring their hottest stories and we realize that a Snookie headline is near the top.
I really enjoyed 'Page One' because it gave me hope for the future of journalism. Even though the days are bleak, the Times seems to have found out a way to survive for now. They’re surviving because of their expertise, but many other papers are floundering and dying out. Is it only a matter of time before the Times bites the dust, too? I have no idea, but what I do know is that as long as we still have the Times around they’ll be reporting the news to the best of their ability.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Page One' is a Magnolia Home Entertainment release. It's packaged in a standard Blu-ray case and is housed on a 50-GB Blu-ray. The case indicates that it's a Region A disc.
The principle photography of 'Page One' is beautiful. As the documentary cameras swing around the New York Times headquarters catching as much action as they can, we're greeted by clear, pristine visuals. Grays and whites dominate the color scheme just like they would in every other American office environment containing rows and rows of cubicles. What's interesting is seeing the different desks of some of the Times' writers and the explosion of color that comes from them depending on the decorations they have on their desks and compared to the all-out messes of jumbled papers, notes, folders, files, and books. With the clear detail it's easy to see each piece of paper that makes up the huge, unruly piles of organized chaos.
Like all documentaries we also have quite a bit of extraneous footage that was shot with lower quality recording equipment. YouTube videos are lifted directly from the web which creates some video that is rather blocky in appearance. This is pretty typical for the course as far as documentaries go. You just have to be aware of it. Besides those few imperfect scenes with subpar footage, the rest of the movie looks great.
As you may have guessed, almost all of the audio is featured front and center here. Even though we are offered a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, we don't get much in the way of surround sound, which is to be expected.
The interviews from person to person are clearly audible. There are a few scenes that are whispered as employees talk about each other behind their backs, but even those can be heard cleanly. There is some LFE, but not much. Most of it comes by way of the composer Paul Brill's original music. There's a part where they watch some candid war footage that has some bass, but again not a lot.
Surrounds are pretty subdued, although there are faint times when nuanced office sounds make their way to the rear channels. When the office gathers together to listen to the lead editor, you can make out rumblings and voices as they await the speech. There's nothing technically wrong with the way the audio is presented here, but it just has a few inherent limitations from being a straightforward documentary.
'Page One' is a documentary that everyone should see. It isn't just about newspapers and how they're dying, but how the stories we see and hear about everyday come together in journalism. It's about the flow of information and how it finds its way to us. 'Page One' is recommended.