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Sunday, June 12, 2011

242. Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times

    I was back at Sheffield Showroom this afternoon for a a movie which I am going to find very difficult to rate.
    Ultimately, Andrew Rossi's year inside the New York Times didn't teach me anything which I didn't already know.
    But that's not overly surprising, is it? The very reason I am writing this blog is because I am a newspaper hack of 27 years and realised I might need to learn a new trick.
    However, that is not to say I fear the immediate demise of newspapers.
    I am only too acutely aware that online news sites have never generated anything like the income of those in print.
    So, while advertising revenues have crumbled (by 30 per cent in the USA in 2009, according to Rossi's movie), they have never been replicated on the web.
    This is a subject so dear to me, I even wrote a paper on it for our newspaper group five years ago. I'm sure it's gathering dust somewhere.
    I was shouted down at that time when I gave examples of pay-for-news sites. Interestingly, the New York Times has just embarked on its own model.
    What I should appreciate, however, is that there is a thirst for this debate among the public and they won't have my inside knowledge.
    So, viewed dispassionately, Rossi explores the future of newspapers with insight and a good deal of fun.
    He followed the New York Times media desk for 12 months and, in particular, their former crack addict but incredibly erudite reporter David Carr.
    Carr is what we in the trade would call a character. Actually, the word character to describe a newspaperman is often a euphemism for drunkard.
    In Carr's case, however, it means self-opinionated and very funny.
    He is a tireless defender of newspapers and seems to take great joy in ripping apart those who predict the industry's demise in snooty tones.
    What became clear in the documentary is how much the internet news channels rely on newspapers for their information.
    Without their authoritative reporting there clearly would just be a swill of words, with no one knowing what was right and what was wrong.
    However, the New York Times has not sat on its hands when it comes to internet reporting and it was most interesting to see its collaboration with Wikileaks' Julian Assange in stories during 2010.
    It was also revealing that Assange would not have caused the stir he did without roping in the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel.
    What came across with great clarity was that the New York Times still wields fearsome power and there is considerable hope portrayed in the movie that it will continue to have some clout for many years to come.
    So, while newspapers have fought through incredibly tough times, journalists are still doing great work.
    And all of us who have a passion for papers and providing the news should be grateful to Rossi for showing the industry still has teeth.
    Page One is out in the UK in September. Rating 7/10.

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242. Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times


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