If You Care About Media Change, Make Time To Watch "Page One"

We started Tanner Friedman five years ago this week, on the cusp of some of the most profound changes the PR and media businesses have ever experienced. Like our friends in the newsrooms, we have lived the changes you have noticed and read about. Sometimes, it seems a shame that we didn’t document it on camera, as history has been made in front of us more than once.

Someone, though, had the foresight to follow the superb journalists who cover media for The New York Times. The people who have chronicled the changes, while working in the epicenter of change, are the primary subjects of a documentary called “Page One.” It premiered last summer in a relatively few theaters but is now airing on The History Channel and is available via Netflix, among other providers.

Since you’re reading this blog, the subject of media change likely at least intrigues you. So, I highly recommend that you watch this film. In addition to featuring an industry, a company and a newsroom in transition, the film also captures a glimpse of the editorial process, something we as PR professionals work with every day. For PR pros who never worked in a newsroom (or haven’t lately), the interaction between reporters, editors and subjects is “must see.”

Much of the film centers on compelling reporters David Carr, whose background as a recovering drug addict and former welfare recipient makes him an ironic figure at the pinnacle of journalism, and Brian Stelter, a former college blogger who moved to the epitome of traditional media to cover media. Both are terrific reporters whose Twitter feeds I regularly depend on to keep up with what’s happening on a daily basis.

One of my pet peeves in working with newspapers (shared by many journalists inside newspapers) is also exposed in the film. Many news decisions are still dictated by “space in the paper,” even though the news organizations themselves are supposed to be following the customer-driven trend to digital content. “Column inches” are still driving factors even though online space works differently and is potentially less limiting.

For your media consumption, Page One should be priority one in the coming weeks. If you have seen it or if you now decide to see it, please share your comments and reaction. It’s a film that makes you think about where this is all going and the value to society of “real” journalism.