“Page One: Inside the New York Times”

TORONTO, Ontario

Page One: Inside The New York Times, is a documentary that uncovers the world of journalism and media through the eyes of The New York Times, and predicts a tragic death for print journalism as we once knew it.

As technology changes, so does the way we receive news. As clearly shown in Page One, print editions are now a thing of the past. All the news that was fit to print for hundreds of years is now forced to shut down due to bankruptcy. The newspaper industry is a grim race to see who goes down first.

What lies ahead for the future of print journalism is obvious. Viral. Online. Digital. However the main question is, how will great prominent newspapers such as the New York Times compete and adapt to this sudden change.

There is a strong possibility that Tweets will out source newspapers, if it hasn’t done so already, in the next few years. Some stories are just beyond the database. A quote that really stood out for me from the documentary was, “why talk when you can tweet?” This is the new mentality of people. It’s listening to a wired collection of voices, as opposed to just one.

The biggest shock and turning point to the destruction of newspapers came with the collapse of advertising revenue that happened faster than I think anyone anticipated. In 2009 when they saw a 30 per cent decline in ad revenue, they knew something very permanent has changed. With more traffic online, advertising companies decided to cash in, placing themselves online and generating revenue to websites such as Monster.ca, Craigslist, and more leaving the newspapers behind in the dust.

The film points out two major changes that happened to newspapers which lead to their defeat. First, the advertising market turned upside down, dropping revenues. Second, publishing that was done by a specialty class is now something every connected citizen has access to. The authoritative tone that the New York Times or any news outlet has always spoken in is now one of many voices. This is a revolution.

WikiLeaks, an intelligence agency for the people, helped revolutionized our perception of journalism. WikiLeaks originally placed their videos on YouTube, creating a new world of journalism; online. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange closed the old world of expertise, classified information and created a new world that wants to crack it open.  Videos from WikiLeaks don’t have to be sent to NBC or ABC for viewers to see; they can just be uploaded onto Youtube for people to find it on their own…and they did. Assange took a twist on traditional journalism by taking something confidential and making it accessible to the public, in a way that no other news outlet have done before, all because of the internet.

Another quote that stood out for me from the documentary was that “newspapers are dying. News is not dying”. News is something that will always reproduce itself, and this gives me hope as an aspiring journalist to find new ways to deliver groundbreaking journalism to the public in a way that newspapers and even broadcasts once did.

21 year old Brian Stelter, is an example of how blogging is an essential part of news media. He started a blog and made a name and reputation for himself. The New York Times was smart enough to recognize this trend and change in the way that news was being read and quickly hired him to work for them. He was so embodied in new media which is a path future journalists must follow.

With this, it essentially means that news outlets can do more with less; meaning cutting jobs for journalists. Why pay 100’s of professional journalists to cover events, when you can pay 20 young people for less, who can get out there and get more, and get it online instantly. If the New York Times, one of the biggest newspaper industries in the world, is cutting 100’s of jobs, what does this say about newsrooms across the continent? It says that the newsroom has turned into a butcher’s room. A grim place for journalists.

Newspapers are sitting at a critical point now, where they cannot make a single error in their sources and credibility in their stories. Everything they publish is up for public discussion and if people don’t find them reputable then they will lose the little customers they have left.  “If it’s in the New York Times then it must be true,” mentality took a beating when Judith Miller published false information on Sadam Husain creating an atomic bomb.  The New York Times or any newspaper for that matter cannot afford to make another mistake like that.

The key thing to remember is that media is a technology business. Technology changes, media changes. And newspapers like The New York Times have to adapt. New journalism is what people consider citizen journalism.

With this being said however, the public still needs traditional journalism. A thousand bloggers doesn’t get you a report on the front lines of a war zone. Someone has to take a real risk and get it there initially. There has to be a real infrastructure to gather the news originally, in order for others to blog about it. When WikiLeaks leaked military secrets, they leaked the information to the Times, the Guardian, and a few other news outlets rather than online, to have a greater impact. This Dilemma of publishing or withholding government secrets proved that the Times are leading the game in traditional news, for revealing the biggest scoop in the past 30 years. A sign of openness in the paper is a positive step even though it’s coming at the cost for contacting traditional news rooms.

The New York Times took a giant leap into the future of journalism when they announced that they will start charging for access to its website. The system is that anyone who comes to their site who is not a paying subscriber is allowed to look at a certain number of articles for free before they are sent a message asking if they want to pay to see more. The design of the New York Times pay wall creates a bond with the people who care about the Times the most. However, this risky gamble may cost them. Many people want to pay but are not going to pay for something they can easily find elsewhere for free. This decision could be the death of the paper, or the rise of a new era, in the way that news is shared online. I won’t be surprised if other news outlets soon follow.

The iPad may be the savior for the newspaper industry. Tablets create a new reading experience for the reader; modern yet traditional, because it essential looks exactly like a newspaper, but on a tablet.

In order for news institutions to survive, they need to have the ability to be both financially and culturally stable in order to bring news that other news institutes cannot. However they do it, one thing is certain; journalism will always be alive and feisty no matter where it goes or what form it takes.

Please check out the eye opening documentary!

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