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This programme contains very strong language
It's hardly breaking news that the newspaper business is in deep trouble.
The Rocky Mountain News, which has been around for 150 years,
is publishing its last edition today.
A great newspaper is dead.
Denver can't support two newspapers any longer.
It's a grim race to see who goes under first.
The Philadelphia Daily News and Minneapolis Star Tribune
are both in bankruptcy.
The Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle have been losing...
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the largest daily newspaper yet to go out of business.
Tribune Company, owner of the LA Times and Chicago Tribune filed for bankruptcy.
The Gannett Company is faltering.
All the news fit to print for 88 years...
After 146 years, the print edition is now a thing of the past.
New York Times stock is off more than 75%.
The New York Times? Are you kidding me?!
The obituary column these days is full of the death notices of American daily newspapers.
There's been a death watch on New York Times
as long as I've been in media.
People are sort of fascinated with what's going to be
the demise of this great institution.
And it hasn't come, and it hasn't come,
but that doesn't lessen people's certainty that it will come.
OK, I see this as a big story.
I can probably get significant space.
What do you think the story is that I should tell?
'Lately when I finish an interview,
'subjects have a question of their own.
'What's going to happen at The New York Times?'
'Even casual followers of the newspaper industry
'could rattle off the doomsday tick tock.'
'As much as we flatter ourselves, it's still an old school business.'
I'm the Media Editor.
'Trees are still cut and papers are still delivered.'
-I just think that helps us sort of be in the mix.
'Not to worry, suggest new media prophets.
'The end of The New York Times wouldn't be a big deal, they say,
'because Tweets, blogs and news aggregators could create
'a new apparatus of accountability.'
'But some stories are beyond the database.
'Sometimes people have to make calls,
'hit the streets and walk past the conventional wisdom.'
Well, trust me, if your numbers are better
than anybody else's, I will write that.
I'm just always sceptical when everybody tells me
that the numbers don't mean what they appear to mean, you know.
Everybody gives me that line, so I don't accept it from anybody.
The collapse in advertising happened
faster than anybody anticipated.
This year in 2009,
there's been about a 30% decline in advertising revenue,
on top of about a 17% decline last year,
and nobody knows where that ends.
It might just be that something very permanent has changed.
Two things have happened to The Times, I think, most of all.
The first thing is the advertising market has turned upside down.
So at the same time as the revenue takes a hit,
suddenly publishing has gone from being
something done by a specialty class to being something that literally
every connected citizen has access to.
So the authoritative tone with which The Times has always spoken,
is now one of many, many voices in a marketplace.
The reduction in advertising revenue
coupled with the competition for attention both at the same time
has turned this from a transition into a revolution.
This is about WikiLeaks, a website
which calls itself an intelligence agency for the people.
And yesterday they posted this video of a US attack,
an aerial attack, where there were 12 people killed.
The government claimed these were insurgents,
but turns out there were two Reuters employees
and then some other unknown people.
WikiLeaks somehow from an anonymous source gets the video
and puts it on YouTube.
It felt like a possible front page story to Bruce and I.
Now the assignment for the rest of the day
is to keep the story interesting to editors.
We're trying to do a front page story on what this means,
and what this means for journalism.
It's great for journalists in some ways, because it's out there,
but it's this collision of two worlds.
This closed old world of expertise
and classification and information and privacy
and this new world that wants to crack it all open.
You know, we see it ourselves. We're a perfect example
of a culture that's having what we do completely ripped open.
Hey, did you send it?
OK, yeah, I got it. Thanks. Bye.
This is watching people get killed in an incredibly graphic way in a war
and hearing the reactions of the soldiers.
I didn't see the van flip over. I didn't notice it last time.
What a fucking terrible story.
"The release of the Iraq video
"is heaping attention on the once obscure website,
"which takes advantage of the global internet
"to give hidden information on governments and corporations."
They didn't have to drop this off at NBC News or The New York Times.
They dropped it on YouTube and waited for everybody to find it.
Even with The Pentagon Papers,
they had to be delivered by hand and they can stop the presses.
This, they're just putting it up there where everybody can see it.
Hi, Al, anything new on your front today?
Very significant, this goddamn New York Times expose
of the most highly classified documents of the war.
Goddamn it, I'm not going to have it.
Could The Times be prosecuted?
As far as The Times is concerned, they're our enemies.
I think we just ought to do it
and anyway, nobody from New York Times is to be talked to.
The decision to publish The Pentagon Papers
was the moment when the American news media
stood up and said, "We are independent of the presidency
"and we are going to do what we think is the right thing to do."
Mr Sulzberger, do you feel national security is endangered, as charged by the administration?
I certainly do not.
These papers, I think, as our editorial said this morning,
were really a part of a part of history
that should have been made available considerably longer ago.
I just didn't feel there was any breach of national security
in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.
Julian Assange, editor for WikiLeaks,
denies that the site has put troops in danger.
Assange is clearly an advocate and opponent of the war.
Assange made a name for himself as a hacker,
and was arrested for computer crimes
before starting his whistleblower website.
We would like to see the revelations this material gives
investigated by governments,
and new policies
put in place as a result, if not prosecutions.
I've got to try Julian again,
cos I have not heard back from him at all.
Hi, it's Brian Stelter calling from The Times.
There's a traditional definition of journalism that is objective,
totally legal, never breaking the law to obtain content.
Do you view yourself as trying to achieve that definition,
or is your definition of journalism broader?
And tell me what the goal is. Tell me what the goal is.
I don't know if what he's doing is good or bad.
Clearly, you know, in an open society, information is important.
It's vital for people to make decisions.
On the other hand, there are things to get people in trouble.
The video was edited in a way that did not show the full story.
It was presented as journalism, but it had, you know, an agenda.
Is "journalist" a word you attach to yourself?
The video has been edited to the extent
that you have a hard time knowing the greater context.
There is, there is.
-So they have both, right?
-They did do both.
But the unedited version clearly shows a guy carrying an RPG.
They're shifting from being a clearing house to being an advocacy.
-It's a big decision to suddenly edit a 30-minute thing.
-Are you writing separately on this?
I certainly had not heard of WikiLeaks before that moment.
And I think probably a lot of my colleagues hadn't, either.
That was the time it kind of burst out into broader public view.
Hey, hey, did you send it?
Oh, I saw a... There was a note in there I didn't see from you. I'm going to open it up.
He's lying. Oh, he didn't send it. I knew he didn't send it.
There's two A1 meetings, the 10.30 where we discuss the stories of the day, what we're going to offer.
And a 4.00, when the top editors make that decision.
It's all the desk heads, or somebody from each desk. You make pitches, they ask questions.
They decide what they want to put in the paper the next day. It's kind of a competition.
You go in there and lots of people want stories and we fight to get on A1. But it's constructive fighting.
OK, folks, we're still waiting for a few people but I think we can get started. First, Bruce.
This is our follow on the video that was released yesterday on the web.
We're looking at WikiLeaks, the organisation that leaked it.
It's a very interesting moment. They've been gaining notoriety because of the Baghdad video.
They've put up the raw footage, which is 38 minutes.
They've also put up an edited version, which is what many people are seeing,
and there are already people in the Army and elsewhere
saying that this distorts what actually happened there.
And when they went to get the bodies,
they found a guy with the RPG,
so as Bruce was saying, it's become advocacy. Now...
-They probably belong in the same place.
-They probably belong in one kind of coherent whole, right?
Yeah, right, right.
'In the Page One meeting, the most senior editors
'look at the summary of the story and say, "Have you framed it correctly? Does this seem loaded?
'"Do you have enough facts to back this up?"'
And then ultimately people present their arguments and build the sides.
Oh, the West Bank story.
I don't think the whole country is interested in Sharpe James.
Swing Sharpe and West Bank?
West Bank's going to have a big readership here.
Yeah, I wouldn't swing that.
Swing it with WikiLeaks?
-OK, swing it with WikiLeaks.
Let's leave the West Bank story.
It's going to swing, so in New York it will go inside,
but for the rest of the country it will go on the front page.
You know, you look for that moment where you can really tell people, "Here's how the world's changing."
When I gave The Pentagon Papers to The Times,
there was a 22-month period
from the start of my copying to it finally coming out.
Had the internet existed then,
I would have bought a scanner, sent it out to all the blogs.
It's not certain that that would have had as good an effect,
but at least it would have been out.
The bottom line is WikiLeaks doesn't need us.
Daniel Ellsberg did.
The old newspaper model is dying.
News is not dying. News is much cheaper to produce now because we can gather and share in new ways,
operate on cheap platforms, in networks. There's incredible new ways to do news.
There is still an enormous amount of information out there,
but these papers have the great capacity of a newsroom.
And if you think of the history of these institutions...
Watergate, Abu Ghraib, the Walter Reed scandal,
it is these institutions bringing to bear newsrooms of experienced journalists.
I think we're at a dangerous moment in American journalism.
The question really is whether it's too late for some institutions
to take advantage of that change and change as much as they have to.
So along comes David Carr, the most human of humans,
talking about how media operates within The New York Times.
Please welcome David Carr!
You were... You are a former crack addict
and you are a reporter for The New York Times.
Which of these two do you think is more damaging to society?
'If you write about the media long enough,
'eventually you'll type your way to your own doorstep.
'I arrived at The New York Times late in my professional life,
'and I have an immigrant's love of the place.
'The chip that was implanted in me when I arrived,
'let's just call it New York Times exceptionalism,
'leads me to conclude that of course we will survive.'
You're so nice!
'Then again, having suffered through drug addiction in my 20s and 30s,
'landing in jail for cocaine possession,
'raising two children as a single parent,
'and eventually ending up at The New York Times,
'I know what it's like to come out the other side when the odds are stacked against you.'
Hi, I'm looking for Alex.
Sure, you can go have a seat on the couch.
-He'll be right back.
-This is David Carr from The New York Times.
-Don't keep saying I'm from The New York Times.
-That sucks. I'm just...it's just me.
-It's nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-Hi, pleased to meet you. How are you?
We wanted to get everyone together to do a company-wide update.
The media landscape is changing in dramatic ways in just six months.
So print as an industry and a medium continues to nosedive.
Publications like Newsweek and Times are going down fast.
We like to say that we're perfectly positioned.
Not only are the sort of biggest media companies willing to come talk to us,
but the biggest brands want to come talk to us and give us money.
And what we have to do is we have to figure out
how we can be meaner and faster and more dynamic than everybody out there.
We don't want to get hot and die. We want to get hotter.
You asked the question is there a business model that, like...
-Just a sec, though.
I want you to fill me on this. I don't do corporate portraiture.
What the fuck is going on that you're doing business with CNN?
We know how to speak to young people. They're listening to us. We're a trusted brand for them.
The first thing that CNN said when they walked into the meeting last summer was,
"49-year-olds are watching CNN right now, and we're fucked.
"Can you please help us develop a new, young audience for the future?
"They like the way you tell stories. They like your hosts. They like where you go."
That's really what they came looking for.
So what kind of war is this - guerrilla?
I don't know Liberia. I don't know what's going on.
I'm not going there for a news thing.
I'm not there to solve the problems of the world. I'm just a regular guy.
I didn't get flown in on a thing. I don't have security. I've been to places, just fucking insane.
If you're a CNN viewer and you go, "Hm, I'm looking at human shit on the beach."
I'm a regular guy and I go to these places and I go,
"OK, everyone talked to me about cannibalism, right?"
I'm getting a lot of shit for saying the word "cannibalism" and stuff, whatever.
Everyone talked to me about cannibalism!
-So you'd kill the child?
-And then drink the blood?
That's fucking crazy. So our audience goes, "That's fucking insane. Like, that's nuts."
And The New York Times meanwhile is writing about surfing.
I'm sitting there going, "I'm not going to talk about surfing.
-"I'm going to talk about cannibalism because that fucks me up."
-Just a sec. Time out.
Before you ever went there, we've had reporters there reporting on genocide after genocide.
And just because you put on a fucking safari helmet
-and went and looked at some poop doesn't give you the right to insult what we do.
-So continue, continue.
I'm just saying that I'm not a journalist. I'm not there to report.
-Obviously. Go ahead.
I'm just talking about, you know, look what I saw there.
Dressed like a big Page One guy.
-How are you?
-Boy, what a day.
The Times was really where I wanted to work
from when I was very young.
I had this idea of the place as this magisterial place where great things happened and were done.
And there was this idea in the past
where getting to The Times was almost like getting tenure.
And you could have this great long 30-year, 40-year career
where you go cover politics, you cover some foreign, write a book.
And that's not the track now.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now on West 43rd Street
in Midtown Manhattan in the central office of The New York Times.
They are this minute busy getting ready.
This is the beehive, the central office, the city room.
Here an avalanche of news is shaped into Monday morning's newspaper.
Well, here we are, boys.
That is Turner Catledge, the managing editor.
I just heard from the circulation department
that we had the largest distribution of papers today
in the history of The New York Times.
Hard news was a phrase The Times almost owned.
NBC, CBS, ABC, the first thing they'd do in the morning,
the directors would look at The New York Times.
If "The New York Times" had a story about such and such in a faraway place,
the networks would think, "Ah, we'll send Walter Cronkite there."
When I was growing up, I read The Times every morning.
Then I read this book by Gay Talese, The Kingdom And The Power,
and it went inside this imperial institution.
And he just, you know, thrilled me.
I mean, there was nothing else I wanted to do.
The Times was a very human institution,
run by flawed figures, men who saw things as they could see them.
But it was equally true that The Times nearly always tried to be fair.
And each day, barring labour strikes or hydrogen bombs,
it would appear in 11,464 cities around the nation and in all the capitals of the world,
50 copies going to the White House,
39 copies to Moscow, a few smuggled into Beijing,
and a thick Sunday edition to the foreign minister in Taiwan,
because he required The Times as necessary proof of the Earth's existence,
a barometer of its pressure, an assessor of its sanity.
If the world did indeed still exist,
he knew it would be duly recorded each day in The Times.
There's actually something called The New York Times effect.
In the world of analogue newspapers, there was an observable effect.
If on day one, The New York Times ran a piece on a particular story,
a political or business issue,
on day two, the tier-two newspapers would all essentially imitate the story.
Like everything else in the newspaper business,
we didn't realise that The New York Times effect
actually depended on the structure of analogue newspaper distribution.
The Times still, I think to a remarkable degree, sets the agenda.
You really can trace almost any major story these days
back to something that originally appeared in The Times.
The problem is, is that once it reaches the public,
they may not even know it came from The Times.
OK, so at 6.00am the release goes out. Is that right?
For two, three months now, I think end of September, the story leaked that Comcast was going to buy NBC.
It seems like finally it will be announced.
So the challenge is this piece I'm working on with Sorkin,
what we call a tick-tock, which is the fun details behind the scenes of how the deal came together.
I'm just waiting for Andrew to come up so we can sort that out, and we'll get that in the paper tomorrow.
-By the way, how's the tick-tock coming?
-Sorkin, I'm waiting for him.
-Has he filed anything?
-So that means he hasn't written a word.
-At 11.00, he said, "I'll have something in an hour."
-I'll look like a chump if I don't hit that.
Our deal was he was going to write what he had and I was going to write into it.
Do you want me to go to him and say Bruce needs to talk?
-Just say Bruce needs it in 15 minutes.
It's another reshaping of the media industry.
Comcast, which is the biggest cable company,
look at the future and see what's going on in media, and worry about if young people are watching TV online,
will they need to keep paying their cable bills?
So they feel like, if they can own as much of the television shows and the movies,
they can play a bigger part in that future.
I want to talk to you. Can I wait?
You'll come up?
He's going to come up.
All right, here's the lead. "The secret meeting..." Secret.
"The secret meeting was set for 1.00pm the second week of July
"in an out-of-the-way condominium along the ninth hole of the golf course in Sun Valley, Idaho.
"Jeffrey Immelt got to the condo first,
"trying desperately to avoid being spotted by Jeff Zucker,
"the chief executive of NBC Universal who was mingling with executives by the duck pond
"a couple hundred yards away and had no idea what was happening."
OK, anyway, here's the story. I'm calling GE now.
-So I'm hoping you can like...
-Sort of maybe tie it together.
-..tie it together.
It's basically just all these little weird stories. I tried to tie it and leave little places to...
It works out for Comcast if the thing becomes worth a lot of money in the future.
-That's basically the concept.
All right. How many words do you think we have for this? It's very long.
-Can you do it in 1,500?
-Is it looking good? Are you happy?
-Some of this may be too much detail.
-I went a little overboard.
-Yeah, no, I'm tightening it up.
-He said we have 1,500 words.
-This thing's like 1,500 words now.
No, no, he said we could have 1,500.
I'll check. I've gotta make sure we got the space.
Did Sorkin have a look?
Sorkin just emailed me and said file away, but said don't put it on the web yet,
because he still needs to confirm something.
Once we could pare it down and tighten it up, I think it read well.
It tried to tell a tale rather than get bogged down in the financials and the numbers.
Here was this kid, 21-year-old Brian Stelter, who started a blog,
who did it anonymously so no-one would out him, until The Times outed him as a kid.
He made his brand and his reputation by getting out there blogging.
He became this must-read for the Brian Williamses of the world.
The Times had the idea, "Why don't we hire this guy?"
A week after that story was published,
The Times contacted me and asked me to come up
and do these series of interviews back to back to back with editors, seeing if you're Times material.
You see him at his desk and he's got two laptops and TVs open and he's Twittering,
and he just embodies everything about new media.
I don't know why anybody who's a reporter isn't on Twitter.
I berate my colleagues who aren't on it.
It drives me nuts when I'll hear my colleagues talking about a story at noon,
and I read it on Twitter at midnight.
I'm thinking, "Why is that allowed? "Why are we not on top of the news?" It's 2010.
I still can't get over the feeling that Brian Stelter was a robot
assembled in the basement of The New York Times to come and destroy me.
I'm putting the expensive beer on the top.
'Welcome to Austin, the city where, for the time being, everybody is famous,
'the economy is rocking and the grid is groaning under an influx of the digitally interested.'
-I might have to put you on ban.
-No, I agree, I agree.
I might have to put you on ban.
You're both going to end up with your devices over the fence.
'Twitter entered the lexicon two years ago here,
'when it was the darling of the conference.
'Why talk when you can tweet?'
You're reading an article. If you want to tweet about it, you can do it right there.
Headlines can be sent out via Twitter.
It's about finding out what's happening in the world.
'Really, what could anyone possibly find useful
'in this cacophony of short-burst communication?
'But at 52, I succumbed, partly out of professional necessity.
'Now nearly a year later, has Twitter turned my brain to mush? No.'
It's hard to convince someone to use Twitter
until they use it for 10 days and they're, like,
"This is why it's interesting."
'I'm a narrative on more things at a given moment than I ever thought possible.
'I get a sense of today's news and how people are reacting to it in the time it takes to wait for coffee.
'Nearly a year in, I've come to understand that the real value of the service
'is listening to a wired, collective voice.
'The medium's not the message. The messages are the media.'
We're always looking for ways to show how cutbacks across the media business has affected coverage.
Brian Stelter has come up with an unlikely one - coverage of the President of the United States.
When Obama travels to Buffalo today, there won't be a charter plane travelling with him.
Many of the networks have simply opted out of taking that very expensive ride,
and the reason is simply cost.
Uh, we'll call it "press".
Oh, good, my sources are starting to come out.
They're starting to wake up.
It's job number one for every DC bureau to follow the President and to travel with him on trips.
Lately there's been fewer and fewer of these White House planes that go with President Obama to events.
These guys are trying every day to save every dollar they can.
It's a demonstration of networks trying to do more with less. Or accepting you can only do less.
Sometimes that's the answer, is just doing less.
Is it 1,500 people on staff right now? 1,400.
Are you confirming that 300 and 400 number that's out there?
ABC's laying off 400 people.
CBS laid off 90 a few weeks ago. God, that is stunning.
20 to 25% of the staff they're trying to cut.
They're not just there to make sure the President doesn't choke on a chicken bone.
They're also there to corner people for interviews.
I think the other thing you have to do is nod
to what this is going to mean for coverage in the next few campaigns.
In the last election, because they couldn't afford to send out regular reporters,
they were sending out 24-year-olds with video cameras.
Somebody fell asleep and it never would have been caught
if they didn't have some kid with a video camera filming everything.
He's not going to make news today, no.
No, the last president who made news in Buffalo got shot.
Wasn't it McKinley?
Let's not put that one in the paper.
This is what is it. How do you cover the President on the cheap?
We've looked at every, I think, conceivable model
all the way from, you know, philanthropic, you know,
could you find a generous foundation that wants to underwrite The New York Times,
That's an extraordinary thing.
I mean, it used to be that newspapers almost gave themselves away.
They charged far less than the cost of printing the newspaper,
and they made up the difference in advertising.
The newspaper industry didn't see Monster.com taking the jobs portion away.
They didn't see Craigslist taking the classifieds portion away.
They didn't see Ford and GM making their own websites
to take automotive advertising away for ever.
We are now in the middle of a really unsettling time.
The question is whether newspaper advertising will return
at the same level.
Like a lot of companies in the industry,
this one found itself scrambling for its cash position.
The company borrowed 250 million from Carlos Slim
and executed a sale-leaseback of the building, which is like mortgaging the building.
Nobody wanted to make any predictions,
because the predictions they had been making had been so wrong.
Nobody was pessimistic enough.
There was just this sort of decades of organisational hubris
about, you know, our own excellence and our own dominance.
And then in a matter of, like, 18 months,
all of a sudden there was the air ionised the situation,
and everybody started, like, asking,
could The New York Times, like, go out of business?
It's trading for three bucks,
a Sunday paper costs more than a share of New York Times stock.
There has been, since the famous Atlantic, you know, Monthly story,
there has been open talk of, "What if The Times were to go away?"
You know, I don't pretend to be a seasoned business reporter,
but certainly looking at the numbers,
it did seem as if they were in some peril and that there certainly was a scenario
in which if they didn't act fast, that The Times could go into bankruptcy.
And so that's what I wrote.
I thought, "You horse's ass." I thought, you know,
"You don't know what you're talking about. You really don't."
I thought that that kind of article, for that to appear in The Atlantic,
that was just so stupid of The Atlantic.
I was actually pretty stunned at the reaction that piece had.
I just... I genuinely didn't expect
that people would be so shocked by it,
because it felt obvious to me.
Please. I mean, this is The New York Times we're talking about,
and I think that that kind of an article was both... I found it just dumb.
There's a collective denial about what is going on, and that newspapers are somehow special
and somehow they're public trusts and that they shouldn't fail,
and so therefore they won't fail.
And I think the disconnect between "shouldn't fail" and "can't fail"
is the thing that I'm trying to, like, blow up.
End Times is good. It's great.
People have been arguing that The New York Times should be put out of business ever since there was one.
So it's an old question, but one that has a great deal of salience for people. They like it.
I don't think it's an argument that will be very easily made,
and if it is, I'll vaporise whoever's making it.
I'd like to note that none of us are economists.
We're here not to talk about whether The Times is a viable institution or not,
talk about CPMs or prices on advertising.
We're here to talk about what would happen if The New York Times disappeared.
How many of you would be happy if The Times disappeared?
OK, so we have a sprinkling of hands.
We have probably 10 people voted for that.
And then how many of you would be disappointed or upset?
OK, wow. So...
Markos, I'm going to go to you first.
If The Times ceased to exist, how would you feel about it?
I think there's a perception
that a lot of people like me who are writing online
cheer the demise of traditional media outlets like The New York Times.
But people like me just want traditional media outlets to do their jobs,
to do what they're supposed to do.
The New York Times helped cheerlead our way into the war in Iraq with Judith Miller.
I think a lot of the decline in these media outlets
is because people have lost faith that those publications don't have ulterior motives or agendas.
People like me, I have an agenda, and I'm very clear about it.
But The New York Times, they try to be something better than that.
That's great, but here's the thing.
When you're making an argument about how we're always falling down on the job,
you're reaching back through five years of really important, good, hard reporting.
-We're on the ground in Afghanistan, Iraq.
-I'm not implying it's bad work.
I'm saying that to claim that because you're with The Times you have to be taken seriously,
I think that's dangerous.
It's that sort of implied credibility that The New York Times brings,
and that's how Judith Miller got away with her war,
pre-war coverage that helped get us into this war.
It's because, well, she works for The New York Times, so she has to be credible.
Judy Miller reported, quote...
The New York Times carried the unsubstantiated claims of those, including...
On the front page of the nation's paper of record,
The Times reported that
Saddam Hussein had launched a...
Weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction.
The Times had reporters who were very much vulnerable.
There's a story in The New York Times this morning...
We read in The New York Times today a story that says that Saddam Hussein is closer...
They were trying to acquire certain high quality...
The Bush administration was helped by The New York Times.
If The New York Times thinks Saddam is on the precipice of mushroom clouds,
then there is really no debate.
Judy Miller was someone who was let loose on this story,
and there were not people there
who were given the power to rein her in,
and she clearly needed to be reined in.
Do you accept that your reporting was wrong?
The handful of stories, about six or seven of them
that I did before the war were wrong,
and the intelligence information that I was accurately reporting was wrong.
I guess if your sources are wrong, you're going to be wrong.
But to say you got it wrong when your sources were wrong,
that, as your colleagues at The New York Times have said,
reduces your role as a journalist to no more than a stenographer.
No, on the contrary, I really reject that criticism.
We made errors in our coverage of the weapons of mass destruction.
We made them at the reporting level and at the editing level.
Does she tell the truth?
The New York Times can't have a reporter?
And we don't.
Anytime The Times fails on a serious scale
on a particular story, a big story...
there's a cost, there's a price to pay,
and certainly in recent years, you've heard people say,
"Well, I no longer need The Times. I can no longer trust The Times."
One more Jayson Blair or one more Judy Miller
and you're chipping away at this institution
that everyone is, sort of, desperate to protect.
I think, kind of, until Jayson Blair,
they were, kind of, impervious. They were Teflon.
The Jayson Blair incident was a real scandalous occasion.
The reporter was found to be reporting stories
at places where he was not actually there,
though the dateline would give indication that he was there,
taking stories and not even rewriting them,
written by other people at other newspapers.
He eventually got caught
because he plagiarised a story from someone
who had previously been a colleague of his at The Times.
Not only does he take and wind a rope around his neck
and, like, go jumping off a cliff, you know, right in plain sight,
but he ties it to our feet and tries to pull us off the cliff with him.
The minute they put it on the front page in that little box,
I still remember the day it came out,
Raines' reign was over.
This system is not set up to catch someone who sets out to lie
and to use every means at his or her disposal
to put false information into the paper.
You went from having Howell being the most successful editor,
not just in the history of The Times, in the history of newspapering,
to his being fired.
I'm delighted to announce Bill Keller
as our next executive editor.
I'm aiming to raise our ambitions higher than they've ever been.
When Bill came in, he was all about restoring trust after Howell Raines.
He was supposed to, sort of, get the ship back on course.
It just wasn't in the conversation that,
you know, there was going to be an economic crisis in journalism
and that's been the dominant event,
I think, if you asked him, on his watch.
'Darker times are ahead for the Gray Lady.
'The Times will resort to layoffs.
'The paper is looking to cut 100 jobs from its news staff
'by the end of the week.'
We're hearing that the layoffs are beginning today.
We now know how many people have opted to go voluntarily,
which means we know how many people we have to layoff.
In the immediate moment, we're in the middle of cutting 100 people
out of a staff of roughly 1,250.
We've spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks going over lists,
trying to prioritise based on skills we can afford to lose.
We are not a specialised newspaper, we're a general interest newspaper
and we try to be excellent at everything from foreign coverage,
to education coverage, to arts, to sports.
You know, we're large, but there's not a lot of slack in the system.
I feel some days that, you know,
we should be symbolically wearing, you know, bloody butchers' smocks,
or something, around the newsroom.
It's such a...
'I was hired in 1977.'
When I was trying to get this job,
a job getting focus group asked me to write my own obituary
and since then, I've been the deputy editor of obituaries.
Hey, it's Claiborne Ray, the departing retiring person.
Should I come down through the freight elevator
or through the regular passenger elevator?
I came with the high hopes of staying for one year.
I've overstayed that by 20 years.
'We have to dump bodies overboard.'
They don't really have any choice.
We all got the packets in the mail.
There's something obviously dispiriting about getting a packet in the mail
that invites you to leave your job.
I almost feel like I don't know of everything that's going on
and I almost feel like I don't have a clear grasp
on the enormity of the situation.
'I decided not to press my luck.'
Nobody knows if there'll be a paper on paper in another five years.
Everybody is unbelievably pressured to do more than people are really humanly able to do.
I'm sorry to leave The Times.
There are a lot of unemployed people out there,
a lot of underemployed people and a lot of scared people
and I have to remind myself every day that I'm one of the lucky ones.
The main effect is just this insecurity that pervades the newspaper business.
The mood is so funereal.
For those of us who work in media,
life is a drumbeat of goodbye speeches
with sheet cakes and cheap sparkling wine.
That carnage has left behind an island of misfit toys,
like model trains whose cabooses have square wheels.
Sure, I've been fired in my day,
but always after I'd failed to show up at work like a normal person.
"Go to treatment," my editor at the magazine in Minneapolis would tell me,
"There's a bed waiting for you."
But at the tender age of 31,
I still had a year left before hitting rock bottom,
a year left of being that guy, the violent drug-snorting thug,
before I found my way to this guy,
the one with a family and a job at The New York Times.
One day I came over from The Twin Cities Reader, where I worked,
came over here to the Skyway Lounge and met my friend Phil.
Phil gave me a film canister full of coke and I was going to get a gram.
I went into the bathroom,
the cop hit the stall door that I was in
and said, "You roll a noisy joint, pal."
And he immediately put me up against the wall
and then walked me down the street this way
and up the block toward Nicollet Mall where his car was parked.
The interesting thing about that is that my father worked right in City Centre,
so I was being crab-walked in handcuffs past the shopping,
downtown shopping centre where my father worked.
It was another life.
It was another guy.
It's that guy.
I'm afraid of guns...
and I'm afraid of bats.
I'm really not afraid of anything else.
It's an advantage of having lived a textured life.
I've been a single parent on welfare. This is nothing.
I was talking to John Hume and he said,
"Look, you didn't go to Afghanistan,
"you didn't turn into the great city hall columnist
"and you didn't set out to be a media reporter, but you are.
"And your story has arrived...
"and it behooves you to man up...
"show some sack...
"and cover it until it's done."
And I thought, "You know what? That's what I'm going to do."
Welcome, everyone, to another debate from Intelligence Squared.
We'll be debating this motion:
There will be winners and losers tonight
and you, the audience, will be our judges.
I work at The New York Times.
We have 17 million people that come to our website,
we put out 100 videos every month, we have 80 blogs -
we are fully engaged in the revolution.
The New York Times has dozens of bureaus all over the world
and we're going to toss that out, which IS the proposition,
toss that out...and kick back and see what Facebook turns up.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
I don't think so.
What you're going to hear tonight
is that the media is necessary for the commonweal.
An informed citizenry is what this nation is about.
That is self-serving crap.
The New York Times is a good newspaper - sometimes.
The Washington Post is a good newspaper.
The LA Times, before it became a bad newspaper, was a good newspaper,
but after that, it's off the cliff.
The news business in this country is nothing to be proud of.
The media is a technology business.
That's what is. That's what it has always been.
Technology changes, the media changes.
Over time, the audience has switched to the web.
The audience that's worth a buck in print
is worth a dime and sometimes a penny on the web
because we end up competing oftentimes
against our own work aggregated.
Newser is a great-looking site and you might want to check it out.
Aggregates all manner of content.
But I wonder if Michael's really thought through,
"Get rid of mainstream media content."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
'There are a lot of websites,'
the core of their being very often, not all of them, but some,
is repurposed pieces by The Times...
with a sexier headline or a bigger picture
or bouncing off of Times reporting, commenting on Times reporting.
Places like Gawker,
they're going for what will feed that Googlebeast algorithm.
They'll go to feed the hits.
And how we build a really rich media environment
where you don't lose coverage of statehouses,
of Congress is a question.
The big board is anathema to anyone at The Times
or any other traditional daily newspaper.
It's a list of 10 stories from our sites
on a big television screen,
which are at that very moment getting the most buzz,
being distributed and passed around on the web.
It's our equivalent of the front page.
It's the most visible manifestation of a writer's success.
We've always been very much focused on stories that our readers want.
We're not trying to force-feed them,
we're trying to give them what they want.
I have a friend who's at the Albany bureau of The Times.
I told him about the big board, sent him a picture of it
and, "How do you like our new innovation?"
He was terrified.
Albany corruption stories
they may be important to cover, but no-one really wants to read them.
The future is to be found elsewhere.
It's a linked economy, it's search engines, it's online advertising,
it's citizen journalism,
and if you can't find your way to that,
then you just can't find your way.
There's nobody covering the cop shop,
nobody covering the zoning board.
The day I run into a Huffington Post reporter
at a Baltimore zoning board hearing is the day that I will...
I was not around when the printing press was invented,
but if I were around I would imagine that the people dealing with stone tablets
would be making a similar argument.
There's no way that I can think of that you can have a BUSINESS MODEL,
you know, one that makes a profit for investigative reporting.
'ProPublica, a very interesting model.'
Part of its formula is pairing with legacy media
to get its information out in the most effective way.
Everything we do goes on our website,
but for our biggest stories, we get a CNN, a 60 Minutes,
a New York Times to work with us.
You know, I was 25, 26 years at The Journal,
we were absolutely rolling in money.
Why should you open yourself to some story
that you didn't know where it had been?
Who knows what kind of germs that had gotten on it?
People are open to new ways of working
because the world has changed.
There's a hybrid model here
and I do think journalism is a public good
and if it's a public good, then that requires a whole new mindset
about how you support journalism.
1,000 bloggers all talking to each other
doesn't get you a report from a war zone.
Somebody's gotta take a real risk.
There's gotta be some infrastructure and some pay,
and they've gotta go and gather that news originally.
A lot of the people in the Baghdad bureau were moving to Kabul
and they asked if there was anybody who wanted to volunteer for Baghdad,
and so I'm going to Iraq.
He's done all these stories on media companies
and, you know, capital cases and death row
and Tim is just one of the guys who wants answers to really basic questions
and I think once you've got that you're curious about all kinds of things.
Iraq is kind of off people's radar screens here,
but we still have 120,000 soldiers there and it's a real crucial point
in terms of seeing what the last chapter is for our country there.
The locals who have worked for us,
some have been killed and kidnapped and,
and, yeah, I worry about that.
But that's something he wants to do and...
kind of just hope he'll be OK.
Cheers, to your good health.
Did they tell you what they want you to do?
I mean, there's no beats, it's just do the day's stories and...
settle in with the Iraqi staff and write stories, you know.
For the beginning, it's going to be the election.
You had covered a bunch of other conflicts, right?
Civil wars and conflicts in Africa.
Somalia, a lot of time in Somalia.
I did a tour in Yugoslavia when all that was going on.
The only advice they give is just fall into this well-run machine
that's been going on for seven years and you'll figure it out.
As you may well know, I expect you to be on TV in a week,
"Those of us who have been covering this for a while."
"Those of us who have been here for two days think..."
Been a privilege to work with you. Come back real soon.
-Thanks for the kind words.
It is a history, it is an enormous compendium of material
that will affect many different people in different ways.
There has been a massive leak.
There are so many pages of military secrets now public.
Some of the documents rip the cover off the US-led war effort in Afghanistan.
Unexplained American deaths, questionable battlefield tactics
and a mission just not going that well.
'WikiLeaks released 91,000 raw military documents online,
'but this time also to three traditional news organisations
'including The New York Times, which vetted the material,
'it said, eliminating information that could put lives at risk.'
Well, I think it was an important moment
that WikiLeaks chose to go through the Guardian, Der Spiegel
and The New York Times.
In a sense they were detoxifying the information that they had,
and they were giving it a little more veracity.
What Julian Assange realised
is that going through The Times, and Spiegel, and the Guardian
would actually have a greater impact. He was right.
We, as a journalistic group,
the four media groups who worked on this,
have really only just scratched the surface.
We've treated them as an advocacy organisation,
but we're partnered with them.
Are we partnered?
I think they're a source.
But they're a publisher.
I think they're more like a source than, well, you're right.
He's not our media partner. He's not our collaborator.
He's a source like any other source giving us access to documents.
They can be a source when they're a publisher.
I think that's very clear.
-We're all in this together.
-But you wonder about the negotiations,
when they come and say, "You can have this,
"but we're going to give it to other papers, and you guys are all going to hold hands."
Where we say, "But we are The New York Times," and they say,
"But we have all this and we are dictating terms."
You can say that and then can you turn around and say,
"By the way, The New York Times never should have done this"?
I really am appalled by the leak, condemn the leak.
There is potential there to put American lives at risk.
Do you believe there should be an investigation into whether The New York Times broke laws?
I'm not calling for prosecution of The Times,
but I think they're guilty of bad citizenship.
The basic calculus that you try to do in your head
is the trade-off between the obligation, really,
to give people information about how they're being governed
and on the other hand, the...
government's legitimate need for secrecy.
I've had a dozen of these instances
where we had classified information
and had to decide whether or not to publish it
or publish it with some parts of it withheld.
Officials at the White House asked us to communicate to WikiLeaks
their strong exhortation that WikiLeaks redact the documents
and take out the names of people who might be identified and put in danger.
And we passed that along.
The oddest thing in the story, you saw, was that The Times said
that the White House asked them to lobby WikiLeaks not to print things.
-Which is really odd.
-Like, "You're the White House, can't you call WikiLeaks?"
But also we're The New York Times...
"It's 1,800 WikiLeaks."
'The supposedly private cables detail everything,
'from security threats to diplomatic dirty laundry.
'There are unflattering views of key allies...'
'It's the largest release of diplomatic correspondence ever...'
'From highly encrypted telegrams to email messages,
'to raw, unfiltered analysis from embassies and consulates...'
I'm still getting messages from people who think that I'm a treasonous son of a bitch
and I'm getting some from people
who think that Julian Assange is the messiah
and why did I not treat him as such?
Many of the media outlets who had been partnered with WikiLeaks
now find themselves trying to figure out
whether this guy is a villain or a hero.
It would be great if people got past the debate over WikiLeaks
and the disclosures, and looked closely at what these are,
which is a real-time history of the US relationship with some very important countries.
It is one of the biggest journalistic scoops
in the past 30 years
and the fact that The Times made it their front page for weeks
shows that, even as all these papers are becoming a shadow of their former selves,
The Times is still in the game
and very much leading the game at this point.
'Maybe newspapers are going to have to supplement using WikiLeaks to get their news.
'It's unclear what the model is,'
but I think it's a sign though of openness at the paper
that there are many more sources.
In a lot of ways it's a very positive step,
even though it definitely is coming at the cost of a contracting traditional newsroom.
Like the Chinese say, it's a very interesting time.
It's kind of a curse, but it's also a blessing.
Especially if you're a journalist,
you should want there to be interesting things going on,
even if it is also a curse.
New York Times.
Get your New York Times!
Come on, check it out. Check it out.
Good morning, New York Times?
New York Times, 2.
The New York Times announced today that it's going to start charging for access to its website.
The system they're going to adopt says
anybody who comes to the site who's not a paying subscriber
can look at X number of articles free
and then when you reach X+1 you'll get a message saying
if you want to keep going, you've got to pay.
The design of The Times pay wall comes THIS close to the NPR model,
which is to go to the people who care most about The Times
and say, "You and us, we're partners. We're keeping this thing afloat."
"As of today you've lost a daily reader.
"If they start charging, I'll change this away from my homepage."
This was a college friend of mine.
"I want to pay, but I'm not willing to pay
"for information I can easily find elsewhere.
"Sorry, New York Times, freedom of information."
I worry about people like that who have grown up...
in that era where everything was free,
or everything SEEMED free. It's never free, but...
The economics of this business have always been that
it required both advertising and payment from the reader
and for the last 15 years on the internet,
we've sort of pretended that that wasn't true.
This is the end of pretending.
They find it through you, they click through, through you,
they come up with the story, which is currently free.
So they're still not getting paid for it.
There's usually advertisements on the page when they land there.
In many cases, I don't think they're getting that advertising revenue
and it certainly isn't covering the cost of doing business.
My view is that it's still very early and that...
When you say it's early, it's not early for The Denver Post or The Seattle Intelligencer,
or a bunch of folks who are facing bankruptcy today.
Information historically was not free.
You had to pay for it in one way or another.
I think what The Times says,
"This is what it's worth to read our newspaper every month,"
will go a long way to establishing what people feel they can charge,
or maybe what they can't charge.
It's actually kind of a big day in the newspaper business
and some people may date this,
you know, this is the day the whole thing died. We'll find out.
People who make prescriptions,
"They should go do a pay wall, not do a pay wall,
"put it all on iPad, kill the paper product," they're being naive.
They have no idea about
the economics of running a legacy print newspaper business
and trying to build an online news business.
You better hope they figure it out because you got like 40 years to go.
Whereas if we got our heads chopped off...
we only have to figure out, what, 15 more years?
Well, fuck that!
I think I got a lot longer to go than that.
-My working life or my life or my life life?
-How old are you?
Somebody's going to tap you on the shoulder here at 62, 63,
and say, "That was great.
"Thanks a lot. Your sheet cake's over there."
-"Turn in your tablet."
-Turn in your tablet.
We call it...
I got a glimpse of the future
this last weekend with the iPad.
It may well be, you know, the saving of the newspaper industry.
Even if the cost is the end of newspapers as we know it?
Well, it's better than them going out of business altogether.
Why are media companies so excited about a tablet?
Well, they see it as this, they see it as that.
And then the question becomes, well,
lots of people think Apple saved the music business.
But they didn't save it on the music business's terms.
Lots of people in the music business say it's punishing dealing with those guys.
Like, "Yeah, they're my best friend. See this? It's a leash."
What makes anybody think it'll be different for publishers?
That's why I wonder if we'll end up screwing ourselves.
CROWD: ..Six, five, four, three,
It's amazing to be able to cover this, cos I think in five years,
this could be, like, how computers are.
But it's a little bit scary down there, actually. I'm walking out and people are like, "Congratulations!"
It's like I just had a kid or I just had twins or something.
You know, I just bought a... I just bought a computer.
Is that a bridge to the future?
Or...oh, wait, it's a gallows!
Right there's the dream come true.
Let's see you navigate. Mm, sweet.
That is a great reading experience right there.
-You know what it reminds me of?
People including me are probably silly to think, you know,
Steve Jobs is riding over the hill like cavalry
to save the media industry.
He's driving Apple's stock price.
And we may have business in common.
And that Venn diagram of interests is their interests versus our interests.
That's sort of where the story is.
I have a lot of great background conversations,
but I've got to move people onto the record.
Think of what you might be able to say to me.
All right, man. Thanks. Bye-bye.
You know, you could say being at The New York Times
is a big advantage.
You know, it kinda scares people when you call them.
And I also think I sound sort of weird on the phone.
And it's like...
Well, do you have time to talk to me?
Um, how long did you work at the Trib?
It's a big story that hasn't really been told
in this kind of comprehensive way.
The biggest media bankruptcy in history,
billions and billions of dollars just evaporated,
a lot of people lost their jobs.
The people there are still doing, you know, excellent work,
but it's under very difficult circumstances
from people who manifestly do not respect what they do.
Sam Zell, when he came in, was somebody
with no experience running a company like this.
No news experience. In fact, a fair bit of contempt
for sort of traditional ideas of journalism.
My attitude on journalism is very simple.
I want to make enough money so I can afford you.
It's really that simple, OK? You need to in effect help me
by being a journalist that focuses on what our readers want.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
I can't, you know, you're giving me the classic
what I would call journalistic arrogance.
You know, people inside just get dispirited
because the company's being run by these people
who just don't share their values.
Hopefully we get to the point where our revenue
is so significant that we can do puppies and Iraq, OK?
Sam Zell wanted to put Randy Michaels, whom he knew
from the radio business, in charge of Tribune Company.
Michaels came in, and one of the first things he worked on
was rewriting the company's ethics policy
to basically say, "We're going to be in a much more permissive atmosphere,
"and it's going to be creative and there'll be things that offend you."
You know what's important to those who buy advertising?
Not the agencies, but the people who write the cheques.
They want to move product. They want the cash register to ring.
They want butts in seats.
Some people are like, "We need something,
"so this could be as good as any."
I mean, it's a kind of...
you know, it's a sort of crazy Hail Mary pass.
So these guys come in, bought the company.
This is how they behaved. This is the result.
This company, they drove it into bankruptcy.
Randy Michaels and a handpicked crew of 20 people
who he's known a long, long time, have extracted
something like 100 million in bonuses.
You could call that incentives or you could call that looting,
depending on your perspective.
Yeah, let's just quit typing altogether
and just talk us girls for a minute.
I have certain memos about behaviour of the executives there,
and I just want to make sure that they're true.
In this memo that was sent to the board,
there's an incident described where Randy Michaels
"talked openly and loudly about other women's breasts, sex toys...
"not just in closed rooms with other executives, but openly..."
"He wrote the employee handbook so that kind of talk
"wasn't against the rules." Does that all sound right?
I was mostly doing the bankruptcy stuff,
and then I saw those poker pictures
and I thought "It seems more like a radio station in the 1970s
"than a great big media company."
Don't you think that would sell?
So I cold-called a person from Trib Co,
and he lays them out flat -
who they were, what they did, etc, all on the record. My first of that.
-I'm doing two more weeks of reporting, and then I'm going to take a week
to write it and show it to you.
Tonight at 6.30, NBC will be driving in the convoy
with the last combat troops as they cross back into Kuwait.
I don't think we know much about it.
We're not on the embed, partly because we think it's a PR stunt.
What do you make of the notion
that they're trying to choreograph an exit here?
In my mind, it'd be easy just to fly these trucks out.
They've been flying trucks out for months.
But the fact that they want to drive across the desert
and bring reporters with them, what does that indicate to you?
So let's get started, please, with media.
The final fighting brigade
in the war is going to be crossing the border
into Kuwait, as I understand it,
and there's embeds with The Washington Post there,
the LA Times, NBC. We're watching to see if this is some sort of end of the war as we know it.
But it's complicated.
If this is just some photo op,
I get no sense that this is coming from the administration
or that it's coming from, you know, the military.
It just seems to be...so far, I get the sense it's only coming from NBC
and the other embeds.
What we won't be able to predict, obviously, is what the Post
-and the LA Times will be doing with it.
Is anybody - is the White House, is the military -
who is saying this is the end of combat troops in Iraq?
NBC is saying that the military will say that.
They are saying, NBC is saying they will declare it.
In other words, NBC will declare it tonight.
-As far as I know, NBC isn't actually at war in the Middle East.
But how come...
-That's why the White House sent their email.
-Have I seen this anywhere?
-No, it's under embargo.
It's secret. We're not allowed to talk about it.
-When does the embargo break?
OK, guys, thank you very much.
Good evening. It's gone on longer than the Civil War, longer than World War II.
Tonight, US combat troops are pulling out of Iraq.
Richard, I understand that your reporting of this
at this hour tonight constitutes
the official Pentagon announcement, correct?
Yes, it is. Right now, we are with the last American combat troops.
We are with the...
-Did you watch NBC?
-I thought it was hallucinatory.
Brian Williams says to Richard Engel "Your report here from the field
"amounts to the official Pentagon announcement
"of the end of combat troops in Iraq."
And there is no Pentagon announcement.
I mean, I'm going over territory you already know.
But let me back up. We're trying to figure out if...
I don't know that there was... I'm not trying to be difficult.
Was there some sort of official...?
Thom Shanker in Washington is right now calling the Pentagon again.
If I weren't thinking about this every day,
I would look at this and think, "What just happened?"
-You would think, "Is the war over and I missed it?"
We heard from Shanker, who talked to the Pentagon, and he said there was no official anything today.
-What's going on?
-If you were watching NBC Nightly News,
you'd have thought there was a big ceremony
of some kind to commemorate the final end of combat operations.
-That's news to the Pentagon.
-Hi, it's Ian.
Did Thom specifically ask the Pentagon guy, "Did you see NBC?"
This is making everyone here completely insane.
Look, I mean we could do the "there was a made for TV" moment.
I don't know whether we even need to... I'll leave that to you.
But I'm not sure it even wants to turn the knife a little bit.
The Pentagon or somebody's calling this mission, that is the mission
to drive across the border, "The Last Patrol".
So there's something going on.
The White House has been fucking saying it's at the end of the month.
"The White House spokesman immediately sent an email saying it's at the end of the month."
How do you cover the end of a war that's not ending?
-I mean, even wars that end badly
end up with, like, helicopters leaving the Saigon roof.
This isn't even going to be that.
I think that story should be written. I do. I think you're right.
I don't think tonight is the night to write it.
Let me start to get something ready,
and let's talk again in half an hour.
So I think we're all standing around trying to figure out
whether this is a real story or a media story,
which isn't very flattering to media reporters, is it?
"Stand down, we think it's actually something happening."
No, we're not going to write anything.
There's still 56,000 in Iraq,
and the AP notes correctly that all of them are combat troops
until they're redesignated otherwise,
which hasn't actually happened.
I'm only wondering if...
are our betters going to come in tomorrow and say,
"Gee, everybody covered this but us"?
Uh, there appears to be no indication that way.
All right. Good.
So I think we're all right.
I'm going to wear my combat helmet just in case.
The function of reporting and the press is the best obtainable version of the truth.
We're not out there
to bring down governments. We're not out there to be prosecutors.
We're out there to be judicious, not judicial.
And that's really what happened in Watergate.
In recent months, members of my administration
have been charged with involvement
in what has come to be known as the Watergate Affair.
We began covering the Watergate story
the day after there was a break-in at Democratic headquarters,
and we continued to cover it for more than two years.
In the first year,
we wrote more than 100 stories.
The story was not one dam breaking.
It was story after story after story, and it was
pretty much owned by The Washington Post.
REPORTER: In the House of Representatives,
there is no member left who thinks the President won't be impeached.
It really pains me to say it. I grew up with The Washington Post,
and you can't say that the diminishment of that paper,
in terms of its scale of its staff
and its ambitions, haven't affected it.
You'd be kidding yourself to say it's just trimmed some fat.
No, economic circumstances have made it a lesser paper.
If that were to happen to The New York Times,
that would be a terrible tragedy.
You know, I get the Twitter feeds
and read the blogs about how media
will or won't fare in the digital age.
But sometimes they seem to have it all boiled down to an aphorism.
I'm not sure that I can boil it all down to a sort of "a-ha".
But I do think
there's a growing sense
of how much it would matter if The Times weren't here.
News organisations that deploy resources
to really gather information are essential
to a functioning democracy.
It just...it just doesn't work if people don't know.
When you read The New York Times today,
in the business section, you will see
the obituary of the newspaper industry.
Jesus, what a bunch of pussies!
I'm not a newspaper guy.
I'm a businessman.
It's really important to remember
that the consequences of this bankruptcy did not just fall
on the employees at the Tribune Company.
In Los Angeles, in Chicago, in Hartford, in Baltimore,
the diminution of those newspapers crippled or destroyed
important community civic assets.
Well, it's going to be a pretty rugged story
and I want it to be fair,
which is why I'm calling you. I mean,
if you want me to characterise the overall story, what I would say
is that this was an overleveraged company
that Mr Zell operated into bankruptcy,
handed this kind of flaming baton off to Mr Michaels.
Michaels brought in
guys from his career in radio to help them out.
Overall, a lot of people lost a lot of money.
Employees are out of contributions.
'This sounds like it's going to be a top to bottom hatchet job.'
Where is the hatchet? I don't...
if there's a counter-narrative, um, I'm happy to talk about it.
If there's a heroic narrative, I'm happy to talk about it.
We haven't even gotten into the cultural issues,
which I'm sure are not going to please you much at all.
Let's cut to something a little more hard and fast.
On December 11th, 2008,
your board received a letter, it was anonymous,
alleging a broad pattern of sexual harassment.
-had received oral sex on the 22nd floor balcony.
-She also added that in a meeting,
that her assistant come in and perform a sexual act on him
to cheer him up.
This is not 1977. This is 2010, and those kinds of things
are material for the people that work there.
It created a work environment that people say
is closer to a frat house than a frontline media company.
So that's in there.
Well, that's not going to happen.
He's got probably 6,000 words of good stuff.
Every editor and writer thinks they've good stuff,
but he really does have good stuff.
It's well written, very sharply reported.
It sticks to the facts, fantastic quotes from people.
Your board looked into these matters,
had their law firm make calls.
What did they conclude?
'I'm trying to figure out why that is important.'
Well, because there's people who are out billions of dollars in debt,
who are going to decide whether
the current management is going to stay in place.
There's judges that are going to decide
whether they're worthy of bonuses that are on the table.
'I'll see what I can find out and we'll get back to you.'
OK, you have both my numbers, so let me know.
What should I know before I listen to my messages?
He was willing to start friendly.
I brought up widespread sexual harassment.
So when he calls and says, "I can't get this shit together"...
I should probably get this.
All right, you shouldn't be here.
How are you?
You've a couple things going for you.
He's one of the most fair-minded people I know.
That's one thing.
He's a very diligent reporter.
We don't do hit jobs.
That's not the business we're in.
The story we were led to, we were led to by the reporting.
Let me talk to my bosses, see what they're thinking.
You talk to your bosses, see what they're thinking.
And maybe we can look at it a little more dispassionately
in the morning. Fair enough?
You guys have negotiated this issue to the exclusion
of everything else.
And now you want to broaden out the discussion
four hours before we close?
We're interested in getting responses from you.
They're sending a letter from the law firm.
It'll be staking out a position.
If we say we're going to go with that,
then another letter will come from the law firm,
and that will be...
..contain threats of legal action.
They're worried this is a hatchet job,
Worried where the reporting started, all that kind of thing.
The muscles of the institution
are going to kick in here at some point.
It's not really up to me.
We need institutions that have the ability,
both financially and culturally, to bring news
that other institutions and individuals cannot.
I think part of what goes on with conferences now
is it's sort of lonely and scary out there.
It's a way to gather around a campfire
and say, "We're all right.
"Are we OK?
"We must be, we have badges on."
What are you doing for supper tonight?
I'm going to eat with the AA guys.
Are you skinny?
How skinny are you?
You're short now, too.
You used to be like six feet tall.
I was at least.
Is that going to happen to me?
My neck is already bent over.
Thank you so much.
Please welcome David Carr.
You've lived through the worst cyclical, secular recession,
the publishing business has ever seen in modern times.
Look around you, you're still here.
Don't think about the people that are gone.
Think about the people that made it.
It's a really big deal.
It's demonstrates, number one,
that you're a bunch of tenacious motherfuckers, I'll tell you that.
You have proven you cannot be killed!
I've always thought it was a little bit of a caper
that I ended up working at The New York Times.
I don't think I was destined
to be the best Times man there ever was.
I just didn't want to screw it up.
I would find it unspeakable if The New York Times
ended up in a diminished place,
but The New York Times does not need to be a monolith to survive.
We're here to take note of the fact
that journalism is alive and well and feisty,
especially at The New York Times.
# Just like a paper tiger
# Torn apart by idle hands. #
We'll see you in a little while.
# Fix yourself while you still can
# The deserts down below us... #
I find French posters of American films funny.
Orson Welles has a size 28 waist.
He's not like any newspaper man I know,
or anybody up in the cafeteria, even though we have a salad bar.
# Like a paper tiger
# In the sun
# Looking through a broken diamond
# To make the past what it should be
# Through the ruins and the weather
# Capsized boats in the sea
# The deserts down below us
# And the storms up above
# Like a stray dog gone defective
# Like a paper tiger
# In the sun. #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
Documentary which goes inside the newsroom at one of the most venerable publishing institutions in the world, the New York Times. Director Andrew Rossi gained unprecedented access to America's pre-eminent news factory during one of its most tumultuous years, as the film follows its struggle to survive in a year where Wikileaks emerged as a household name and other newspapers folded. Led by people such as David Carr - a firebrand journalist and former crack addict - can the foot soldiers of this bastion of old media keep up with the torrent of information that is the world wide web?