(Cross-posted from my Tumblr page.)
One of the main problems facing the newspaper industry was on display as my friend and I walked into the theater to see Page One: Inside The New York Times. That issue being that we were the youngest people in the theater. By decades.
Perhaps most 20-somethings elected to spend a glorious summer night outside, but certainly there must be enough media junkies left in the Boston area to spend an evening getting a glimpse inside the Grey Lady as she figures out how to navigate the ever-evolving media landscape.
The film has the same issue as the newspaper industry itself—the threats come from so many sides, it’s easy to lose focus on how to move forward. Look, over here! It’s the Wikileaks controversy! Do we need newspapers anymore? Oh, wait, here’s craigslist and Monster.com eating away at our ad revenue! Let’s lay off the sweet obituary woman and a black lady. Now let’s talk about the Tribune Company! Oh my God, the iPad!
As a news nerd, I loved getting a glimpse inside the editorial meetings and watching reporters work their sources and flacks to build their story. I enjoyed the talking heads and professors pontificating about the odds of survival and best ways forward. But when the lights came up and the octogenarians made for the exits, I didn’t feel I had any greater understanding of the challenges facing the Times, or the industry as a whole.
I feel as if this documentary should have been filmed now, as the Times and many other outlets take cover behind a paywall. Nobody is arguing the journalism being done by the crew at the Times isn’t good—but the crux of the issue is how the company will manage to pay the men and women who create that product as our methods of consuming media and gathering information continue to evolve. We’re in the midst of another seismic media shift. Let’s hope the next documentary (proposed title: “Below the Fold”) on the media examines more of the proposed solutions instead of clarifying the problem.