Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Page One: Inside the New York Times: Movie Review

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Page One: Inside the New York Times: Movie Review

Article excerpt

The narrow focus of 'Page One: Inside The New York Times' fails to do justice to the Gray Lady, devoting almost all its energy to four guys on the relatively new media desk.

I once asked the great documentary filmmaker Fred Wiseman if there

was a subject he really wanted to make a movie about but knew he

couldn't. His answer was "a great American newspaper," because he

knew he'd never get the access to do it right.

I thought about Wiseman when I saw Andrew Rossi's "Page One: Inside

The New York Times." Sure enough, he didn't get the access. Instead,

he offers up a disappointingly narrow view of the Gray Lady,

primarily focusing - when this scattershot documentary bothers to

focus at all - on the paper's relatively new media desk. (It was

created in 2008, two years before the time when most of "Page One"

was filmed, after years in which The Times only glancingly deigned to

cover the press.) Even here, the panorama is skewed. Since reportedly

both of the women on the desk declined to participate in the film,

Rossi homes in on four male journalists - Tim Arango, Brian

Stelter, David Carr, and media editor Bruce Headlam.

Headlam gets points for having a big French poster of "Citizen Kane"

in his office. Stelter, the wunderkind who started his TVNewser blog

while still in college, has a Gumby action figure on his desk - a

distinct comedown from "Kane," but perhaps a generational sign of the

times (or Times). Carr is given the most screen time. Rossi seems

altogether enthralled by his mix of punkish edginess (we are told

repeatedly that Carr was once a cocaine addict and single father on

welfare) and old-school cynicism (though he is practically devotional

about the Times).

Carr is a marvelous camera subject and the only newspaperman in the

movie who provides a temperamental link to the old "Front Page" days.

The best scene in the movie records his phone conversation,

alternately wheedling and damning, with a beleaguered representative

from the bankrupt Tribune Co. …

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