I finally got a chance to watch Page One: Inside the New York Times, the 2011 documentary from director Andrew Rossi. My running diary:
• All those giant stacks of paper. All those trees. All that cost. What’s a bigger culprit in the newspaper adjustment: printing costs, loss of advertising, misguided editorial decisions? All of the above?
• I’d never seen the inside of the NYT’s New York building before. Holy cow — gorgeous.
• “It might just be that something very permanent has changed.” – Richard Perez-Péna.
• I know this movie ultimately isn’t about Wikileaks, but watching that video of the helicopter shootings takes me back to class. We talk about Wikileaks every semester now, and it’s always one of the best classes of the semester. Great discussions. Diverse ideas.
• Whoa! Brian Stelter got Julian Assange to pick up a direct phone call. Access. New York Times access. There’s no substitute for access.
• So what advantages do newspapers still have? Name recognition, for one. That goes hand in hand with raised expectations. Access (for now). Well-trained journalists and editors.
• I didn’t know David Carr is a recovering drug addict. Not surprising — my naivety, I mean. Journalists are a celebrity of sort, and I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid details of personal lives of celebrities.
• Love the “bee hive” newsroom from the mid-1950s. No cubicles, yet still productive. Or perhaps more productive because of it? I don’t know.
• Well look at Gay Talese. He looks amazing. He still ranks as my second-favorite guest speaker during my time at Northwestern. We — the group — talked about “In the Name of the Father” at length. Now I use Silent Season of a Hero, Talese’ piece on Joe Dimaggio, each semester in class.
• Brent Musburger, by the way. My favorite NU guest speaker.
• The New York Times hiring Stelter is a great example of broadening our hiring pool. Another great, and more recent, example? Daily Iowan editor Adam Sullivan hiring as a copy editor a local guy who kept ripping the DI’s copy editing.
• I can’t tell whether SXSW is the world’s most important media conference, or whether the people there are merely talking to themselves in loud electronic voices. Also, I’m angry that I’ve never gone.
• Does Bill Keller frequent tanning beds? Is he just naturally orange? Is it high blood pressure?
• This quote in the movie from James McQuivey of Forrester Research …
The newspaper industry didn’t see Monster.com taking the jobs portion away. They didn’t see Craigslist taking the classifieds portion of away. They didn’t see Ford and GM making their own websites to take automotive advertising basically away forever.
reminds me of this quote from ESPN’s John Walsh describing the newspaper’s method of covering public topics, in which Walsh describes:
The biggest swings and misses in the history of modern media.
Walsh said, over the last 40 years, media neglected the depth of coverage necessary to effectively cover the counterculture revolution, rock and roll, sports on cable, talk radio, coverage of technology and computers, the age of wealth on Wall Street, and the Internet, and “now they’re determined to not swing and miss when it’s their own (newspapers’) death. They’re burying themselves very comfortably.”
McQuivey was talking the business end. Walsh was talking editorial. But the message is the same: the newspaper industry damaged itself by never taking the time to look around until change had already passed them by.
• Oh, Judith Miller. Rest assured that you left a legacy.
• “Anytime the Times fails on a serious scale … there’s a cost. There’s a price to pay.” – David Remnick, editor, The New Yorker
• God, Carla Baranauckas’ few-second departure speech is gut wrenching.
• I’m getting David Carr overload.
• As long as we’re talking ProPublica and new business models for journalism, a public-service announcement: If you live in Iowa, or if you care about Iowa, then it’s imperative that you donate to and visit the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.
• OK, now Assange is back. I take back what I said about this documentary not really being about Wikileaks. We’re at two segments and counting.
• The New York Times calls Assange and Wikileaks a “source,” but also a “publisher.” Someone in the doc said they can be both, but can they? I think it’s best to call Wikileaks a collaborator.
• Now we’re onto the New York Times paywall. Where to begin?
• I’ll begin here, by outing myself. I’ve stayed in the closet for too long. My name is Dave, and I’m fully behind news and information outlets charging for their product — mobile/online and in print. I am pro paywall.
• I’m also in favor of Honda charging for their cars. And Morton’s charging for their steaks.
• Yes, I know news/information is a different product. But it’s still a product. One I’ll pay for, and should pay for, and one that I don’t mind telling people they should be paying for.
• Sam Zell. Tool.
• Huh — I didn’t realize they were going to discuss Carr’s piece on the Tribune Company, “At Sam Zell’s Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture.” Highly recommended.
• TV “needed a Mission Accomplished moment.” – Ha.
• Remnick is mourning The Washington Post as he knew it growing up. I feel the same. The Post and the L.A. Times — have any other news organizations fallen as far the last five years?
• I’ve seen James O’Shea’s “The Deal From Hell” in the offices of at least two dozen friends and colleagues across multiple states. I think it’s time I read it.
• Carr’s presentation to a group in Minnesota describes the worst of the publishing industry’s economic correction in the past tense. I don’t know. I hope.
• Fun movie. Check it out.
Reach Dave Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.