- Running time:
- 88 minutes
- Andrew Rossi
- Official Movie Web Site:
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
The most prestigious newspaper in the world flings open its doors for this peek into the vaunted inner workings churning out all the news that's fit to print. At the crux is the Times' media desk, whose elite team of reporters—led by acerbic columnist David Carr—chronicle the seismic shift in a shaky media landscape. The picture is bleak. Newspapers around the country are collapsing, the Internet siphons both print readership and ad dollars, and rogue information hubs like WikiLeaks threaten to reinvent the news model. As the Times struggles to stay afloat amid alarming layoffs, it has no choice but to re-evaluate its place in a briskly evolving digital world, and determine the steps necessary to survive and thrive.
The buzz: This is Disneyland for media junkies. "Page One" offers a rarefied entrée into the Times' hallowed halls that recalls the fashionista-baiting "The September Issue" and its inside look at Vogue. The timing is serendipitous, arriving in the wake of massive and historic changes within the Times. Earlier this month, the paper appointed its first female editor, Jill Abramson, who'll need to prove that a new digital strategy—which includes corralling online content behind a paywall—is the right one.
The verdict: The Times may have earned its prestige via unimpeachable, prize-winning journalism, but its mystique has been built on exclusivity and impenetrability. "Page One" promptly breaks down the fourth wall, allowing for fascinating if calculated glimpses into top-level meetings, on-the-fly reporting tactics and the push-and-pull between writers and their sources. Then there’s the eminently watchable Carr, whose cantankerous take-no-prisoners reporting style sells the show and makes for vigorously addictive viewing. The film’s biggest achievement, however, has more to do with schadenfreude than sheer merit—director Andrew Rossi happened to be there when the newspaper biz bottomed out, and was privy to plum footage of veteran staffers being laid off, and Carr reporting on the spectacular crash of the Tribune Company. The effect is akin to a doctor watching his own surgery. At other points, "Page One" often becomes too snug with its subject matter, blindly captivated by so much media minutiae that the film occasionally morphs into a rambling Journalism 101 seminar. It also ends on a rather abrupt and incongruous note, trading its doomsday harpings for a feel-good denouement that carries a subtle whiff of propaganda.
Did you know? Before he became a celebrated Timesman, Carr was a self-admitted drug addict. He chronicled his struggles to come clean in the raw and gritty 2008 memoir "Night of the Gun."