Documentary lacks central theme but depicts relevant issues

Alex Williams

Every documentary has a thesis, a point which they are trying to make. But ironically for Andrew Rossi’s “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times,” there isn’t a nut graph to sum up the story. It’s a fascinating film, filled with compelling people and situations, but it lacks anything resembling a narrative, electing instead to bounce around while celebrating the importance of The New York Times.

The most interesting reporter Rossi follows in his year at the Times is Monday business columnist David Carr — a fierce, no-nonsense journalist who’s protective of his institution and his career. The film’s best and funniest moments involve Carr confronting various new media types claiming the downfall of print media. Carr’s gruffly delivered sarcasm and unflappable honesty single-handedly make the film worth watching.

While the film lacks an over-arching narrative beyond following reporters, it manages to earn some truly compelling discussions and moments. When a reporter examines the WikiLeaks story, the news coverage is just as fascinating as the on-screen discussions about the nature of journalism. Another segment, discussing Twitter, is a fun aside that features an appearance by Austin’s own South By Southwest festival.

“Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times” may not have much on the surface to recommend beyond interesting characters and scenarios, but it’s really a film drunk in love with a newspaper, without a hint of irony or self-deprecation. Thankfully though, it pulls no punches either: it’s messy and lacks focus, but it’s also a relevant, illuminating documentary about the definitive gold standard of journalism.