The New York Times is usually the first thing that comes to mind when someone hears the word ‘newspaper’. It’s become ubiquitous within modern culture as ‘The Newspaper’. This movie had an important job to do conveying why they’ve achieved this status in the public’s eye. It had to get people interested in what most probably only knew as a name. And it pulls this off by showing a more human side of the organization. The New York Times is a very famous paper, one that everyone knows and can affect other news carriers to the point where there is a ‘New York Times Effect’. But it’s also full of people who love what they do and are in the middle of a crisis as the way the public receives and views news rapidly changes.
David Carr is used as a mouthpiece for most of the film and is a good choice as its focal point. He proves more than memorable enough to fill the roll with both a gripping history and a unique voice that becomes recognizable within minutes. The movie uses him as an anchor as it goes through both the history of the New York Times and its influence over the word along with the current troubles the paper is facing. A good chunk of that is devoted to how the staff reacted to the WikiLeaks scandal. There is a particular bit that discusses how information can just be left online to be found to the public. It’s something that had never been possible on a widespread scale and older papers, the ones who were formed before the internet really got going, couldn’t anticipate this kind of shift. Interviews with the staff about how news media has changed really sells that even a paper as grand as the New York Times can have troubles adapting to new forms of media.
It puts a lot of things into perspective. Those of a younger age who are just starting to pay attention to the news (such as the kinds of people in our class) probably don’t spend much time thinking about how it was done before. There are very few teenagers and young adults who will take the time to sit down and physically read a newspaper when they can go and get the headlines from the web. This trend has hurt the New York Times and shaken its foundation. Other papers, old ones that have been around for just as long and carried similar weight behind their names have already gone under. The movie brings up this fact and uses it to add precedence to the idea that the New York Times might not be around forever.
Overall, it’s a very effective and informative look into the most prestigious paper in the United States. It shows it to be both a normally run institution with a human staff and as a fallible organization. It’s a beautiful documentary on one of the cornerstones of the news media and is more than worth the watch for anyone who reads or is curious about the New York Times.