Review: Page One: Inside The New York Times DVD

STUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Andrew Rossi
RELEASE DATE: 10/18/2011 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: commentary, extended interviews
SPECS: R | 92 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

A solid look at “The Gray Lady” and the state of journalism in general, the sharply observed documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times from Andrew Rossi (La Cirque: A Table in Heaven) shows a tumultuous year in the life of the 160-plus-year publication that has long been regarded as the “newspaper of record.”

Page One: Inside the New York Times movie scene

The New York Times' David Carr considers his next column in Page One.

As evidenced here, newspaper closings and takeovers are commonplace and the Times, like all other publications, is getting squeezed by the economy. Yet Page One shows the newspaper, undeterred, grappling fearlessly with a series of incidents ranging from the publishing of the WikiLeaks report, the blowback from journalist Judith Miller’s questionable reportage of the Invasion of Iraq and the changing-of-the-guard in the editor’s suite.

How the events affect the paper is mirrored in the personalities Page One centers on. Most are in the Times’ media department, where David Carr, the opinionated, cantankerous and charismatic former drug addict and columnist/reporter takes center stage, pushing the envelope at conferences with his opinions and pumping his sources to get the inside scoop on whatever story he’s working on. Acting as the Ying to Carr’s Yang is Brian Stetler, a newcomer to the Times who comes from the Internet industry. Stetler is seen bringing a new generation of journalism — one versed in social media — to the daily. The third musketeer is Bruce Headlam, the paper’s humorously deadpan media editor.

Rossi was offered rare access to the newspaper for an entire year, and his work gives the film urgency and a unique fly-on-the-wall feeling. He takes us into the editorial meetings and the discussions between editors and reporters, where we can see how the news of the day is decided upon and communicated. Additionally, he elicits commentary from the likes of such well-known writers as Gay Talese, Carl Bernstein and David Remnick.

Even with the high-octane David Carr grabbing the lion’s share of attention for a good deal of its running time, Page One is a surprisingly well-rounded account of how contemporary journalism weathers the storm of the economy and technology in hopes of surviving.

Included in the small group of bonus features on the DVD are a group of extended (and intelligent!) interviews with Bernstein and journalists Emily Bell and Sarah Ellison.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.