As the title states, this is a documentary about The New York Times and its struggles and challenges in this digital age. The New York Times is one of the most prestigious newspapers all around the world. But when more and more US newspapers are going bankrupt, and social media is exponentially rising, the development of this old and venerable newspaper seems to be a problem.
A journalism student at Columbia University recommended this documentary to me. To be honest, I think it is not as interesting as I expected (lacking strong narrative and cohesive plots), but it still throws out many questions worth thinking.
From Wiki-Leaks to the coverage of Iraq war, the film touches on a variety of issues, but more importantly, it looks into a larger issue of journalism today. With the Internet surpassing print industry as our main news source, how do newspapers survive?
In this film, a young journalist Brian Stelter makes a big impression on me. As a new media journalist who starts his career from a blog, he always has at least two computers open when he was working. Checking Twitter all the times and writing articles on blog, that’s the journalist of the present and future. Actually, I’m not a social media geek as many people think that a journalist should be. And I always wonder that if journalists like Brian Stelter are the real elites in the future world of journalism. They are able to capture the newest messages, broadcast information anywhere and anytime. The Internet makes them more comprehensive and competitive.
Admittedly, the Internet, especially social media totally changes the pace of journalism. Just as Stelter says: “I’ll hear my colleagues talking about a story at noon, [but] I read it on Twitter at midnight. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why is that allowed?’ Why are we not on top of the news? It’s 2010.” However, whether social media is a solid news source or not? This is an impetuous era. The Internet offers people more reasons to be restless. I’m not saying the Internet cannot be regarded as an active part in the journalism world, but the characteristics of such new source determines that the Internet or the social media cannot replace the traditional news media in a short time.
One of the most interesting parts of the film involves David Carr’s investigative report on heinous executive practices at the Tribune Co. As a man who has overcome drug abuse, imprisonment and poverty, Carr plays a role that reaffirm the importance of good reporting and real journalism in this world. Actually, to some extent, Carr and Stelter seem to be the representatives of traditional journalism and new media.
From my perspective, I believe traditional newspapers still have many years of life. They will persist, adapt to the new environment, survive and thrive. Maybe one day in the future, newspapers do not have any paper versions, but they will not die. Although the forms they exist may change, they will keep playing the role they play in nowadays’ journalism. Personally speaking, things like Wiki-Leaks provide journalism with more possibilities, which will be beneficial to the people and society. However, being a two-edged sword, such new possibilities also need the cooperation of traditional professional journalism.
Although this film mainly focuses on the dilemma of print industry, it also reminds me of the fate of TV. Because of the Internet, because of various websites like YouTube, the old square box in the corner of room may soon be dead. However, this does not necessarily mean that TV has already lost its historic role of keeping people informed about what is happening in the world. Until now, most so-called new media are largely based on the traditional journalism. It is true that the merger of news media and convergence reporting are the inexorable trends in the future, but newspaper, TV as well as other traditional media will adapt to the new trend and make their new and great contribution.
Official Movie Site: <Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times>