With the Internet surpassing print as our main news source, newspapers going bankrupt, and outlets focusing on content they claim audiences (or is it advertisers?) want, Page One chronicles the media industry’s transformation and assesses the high stakes for democracy if in-depth investigative reporting becomes extinct.
The film deftly makes a beeline for the eye of the storm or, depending on how you look at it, the inner sanctum of the media, gaining unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom for a year. At the media desk, a dialectical play-within-a-play transpires as writers like salty David Carr track print journalism’s metamorphosis even as their own paper struggles to stay vital and solvent. Meanwhile, rigorous journalism—including vibrant cross-cubicle debate and collaboration, tenacious jockeying for on-record quotes, and skillful page-one pitching—is alive and well. The resources, intellectual capital, stamina, and self-awareness mobilized when it counts attest there are no shortcuts when analyzing and reporting complex truths.