It's quite possible that my reaction to Page One: Inside the New York Times had something to do with what happened when I tried to enter the theater for the screening.
I showed up, about a month ago, at the correct place and at the appointed time, only to be told that I could not enter this particular screening. A check of the exact time, at the exact moment of the ensuing standoff between myself and some clipboard-wielding gatekeeper, revealed that I was in fact five minutes early. Still, I was told "too late." The appointed time is earlier than previously announced. You cannot enter. If you do, we're going to call security.
I stood there for a moment in disbelief, a little sweaty from the bike ride to the theater, already anxious about the six other deadline-related things I had going on that day, your typical harried journalist—except, on this particular harried day, some overzealous arbitrary-rule enforcer was telling me that I couldn't enter a movie theater to watch a film about how the industry that employs me is dying.
I saw what needed to be done.
"Go ahead and call security," I told the clipboard-wielding gatekeeper as I pushed past. Then, over my shoulder: "Come drag me out of the theater. I dare you."
Which is hardly as brave as being a war correspondent or some such, but at that moment felt like a very satisfying "Fuck you" to all the forces—from the internets on down to this one jerk with a clipboard—that are currently contributing to the diminished respect, job security, and opportunities offered to workaday print journalists like myself.
I sat on an aisle step in the back of the theater and loved every moment of Page One, appreciated every second of watching a bunch of high-level journalists refusing to be stopped by barriers that all relate directly to the fact that their world, and the business model that supports it, is falling apart around them. (Not too long ago, one share of New York Times stock cost less than one copy of the Sunday edition.)
Sure, these were 88 minutes of serious identification and hero admiration for me. But I think a lot of people, journalists and non-journalists alike, should be able to identify with a building full of super-smart men and women who are just fucking grateful to still have a job and plan on doing it balls-out until someone tells them to go home. I hope there are also more than a few people who can identify with—or at least come to adore—David Carr, the show-stealing Times media reporter who has beaten crack addiction and more in order to lurch into battle against those who see no consequence to the very possible, internet-instigated demise of the Paper of Record. (At one point in the film, Carr declares he is going to head off to some forum on the future of journalism and "vaporize" these Times-demise-cheering idiots—and he does, delightfully.)
I left the screening of Page One feeling optimistic, ready to take on clipboard freaks and any other future nonsense that might block my path. I don't know if this is what the general public will feel upon leaving this movie. But if you care about the future of journalism—which cannot be separated from the future of our democracy and culture—then you should appoint yourself a time, show up, and not let anyone get between you and this documentary.