Evolution and Big Media

Nobody cries, "Stop the presses!" in Andrew Rossi's Page One: Inside the New York Times; no one would dare. There's a palpable fear that it could actually happen. Are we living in the end times? Newspaper ad revenues have collapsed. Dailies are dying all over America. The New York Times could be the last of its breed. What would happen if it, too, expired? Does evolution work? Will the noble brontosaurus give way to HuffPo, Gawker, and all the other scampering little rodents of the Internet? Part vérité, part infomercial, Page One is less about the end of print journalism than the birth of some newfangled cyborg—indeed, with its blatantly self-reflexive approach and emphasis on personality, it's part of the process. Where there once was Daniel Ellsberg, now there is Julian Assange . . . and David Carr. Shooting solo over a 14-month period, Rossi found his story at the Times' media desk, focusing on three media reporters: Carr (covering the Tribune bankruptcy and promoting the Times), Tim Arango (eager to change his beat for something less meta), and the former teen blogger Brian Stelter (described by Carr as "a robot assembled in the [Times] basement to come and destroy me"), plus their editor Bruce Headlam. Page One's greatest achievement may be to have turned the Times saga into an ongoing reality show. As the movie ends, we learn that Arango has decamped for Iraq (eventually to become bureau chief) and Stelter has dropped 90 pounds—while blogging about it.
July 1-7, 2011

 
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