I don’t follow the news anymore, but apparently they are dying.
Page One collects and condenses footage taken inside and around the New York Times. Director Andrew Rossi had full access for one year to a lot of what was happening in one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world. That amount of material probably led to the muddled final product he ended up with.
We follow some of the news that are happening, the Wikileaks being the most interesting by far. We get the opinions of the traditional media on probably the biggest scoop since Watergate. Assange the God. Assange the Devil. It’s interesting to find where they stand.
There’s the media desk editor, a promising journalist who choses to go to Iraq to cover the conflict, a blogger who got his job on the Times by blogging and Dave Carr. Carr is the hero of this tale. A single parent who overcame drug addiction and got a late break in one of the biggest news stages. He’s House MD with two healthy legs. He has seen it all and he tells it with a smoke tattered voice. He’s the voice to be heard.
This anti-hero figure shares the views of most of his coworkers, but adds a callous demeanor and quick wit to them. In a meeting with people from Vice Magazine he comments on an excerpt of a film they produced:
CARR: If you’re a CNN viewer, and you go, “Hmmm. I’m looking at human shit on the beach …”
SMITH: Well, I’ve got to tell you one thing: I’m a regular guy and I go tothese places and I go, “Okay, everyone talked to me about cannibalism, right? Everyone talked about cannibalism.” Now I’m getting a lot of shit for talking about cannibalism. Whatever. Everyone talked to me about cannibalism! … That’s fucking crazy! So the actual — our audience goes, “That’s fucking insane, like, that’s nuts!” And the New York Times, meanwhile, is writing about surfing, and I’m sitting there going like, “You know what? I’m not going to talk about surfing, I’m going to talk about cannibalism, because that fucks me up.”
CARR: Just a sec, time out. Before you ever went there, we’ve had reporters there reporting on genocide after genocide. Just because you put on a fucking safari helmet and looked at some poop doesn’t give you the right to insult what we do. So continue.
Continuing, these people are part of an institution trying to adapt and survive probably the most trying times in history of newspapers. People are asked to leave. Some volunteer, some get fired and the job is still there for some. Institutions with more than a hundred years are closed down. Some are taken over by business men who know nothing about this business, and joke about adding porn because that would sell. It’s a sad state of affairs for newspapers, but showing us these people, Rossi paints the picture that is a sad state of affairs in general. That’s for discussion…
His documentary is all over the place, and with some attempts to show us the opposite side, it is mostly partisan of the important place traditional media holds and should hold in the future. Its greatest flaw is its unassertiveness. The film is not shamelessly one-sided neither impartial. It doesn’t present solid arguments to convince me of the value of either option nor is it unbiased. I would prefer either one.
Or a reality show of the life of David Carr. That’d be good, too.
I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me: