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Movie review: 'Page One: Inside The New York Times' -- 3 stars

David Carr of The New York Times in

David Carr of The New York Times in "Page One" Credit: Handout

Page One: Inside The New York Times

Documentary directed by Andrew Rossi
Rated R

3 stars

The "death of newspapers" has become a foregone conclusion for some media forecasters. "Page One: Inside the New York Times," a brisk and entertaining documentary by Andrew Rossi, is more optimistic.

Rossi gained access to The New York Times newsroom over the course of a year, following editors and reporters as they tracked bombshell stories, most notably the WikiLeaks airstrike video from Iraq. We listen in on phone calls with sources and watch as reporters and editors deliberate on developing stories. For anyone with a remote interest in what nose-to-the-grindstone journalism looks like, "Page One" has that fly-on-the-wall appeal.

The film's superstar is charismatic media reporter David Carr, who talks openly about his past as a drug addict and single father of two. With his signature raspy voice, Carr cuts to the heart of every conversation with incisive charm. A quick verbal spar with the CEO of Vice magazine made me burst out laughing.

Carr emerges as a fierce champion of newspapers in a digital age, making the case that newspaper journalism is not - and ought never be - irrelevant. Someone has to pay reporters to roll up their sleeves and dig up stories, he argues. If it's not newspapers, who will it be? Not bloggers and content aggregators.

Rossi stirs up broadsheet nostalgia with archival footage of the Times newsroom and opening shots of a Times newspaper plant. He gives newspaper doomsayers some face time, but for the most part, this is a measured, heartfelt ode to the values of print journalism - and it comes at a good time. "Page One" should be required viewing for anyone who rails against online paywalls or doubts the necessity of newspaper journalism.

Movie extras
• Andrew Rossi initially wanted to make a documentary about David Carr.

• Rossi was a one-man crew while shooting the film.

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