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USA, 80 Minute Running Time
Program: Documentary FilmsLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: Mark Birnbaum, Manny Mendoza
Documentarians Mark Birnbaum and Manny Mendoza—the latter a former journalist himself—are profoundly alarmed by the decline of the American newspaper and its significance for the future of democracy. In the postliteracy era, as cable news runs 24/7 and the blogosphere continues to explode, newspapers have lost advertising revenue, ravaged their editorial staffs, and shifted priorities. The world of All the President’s Men—in which journalists not only spoke truth to power but were actually heeded—is now as bygone as the New York Mirror.
In Stop the Presses—an exhaustive and compelling report on the failing health of newspapers—it is everyone from the editors of the Boston Globe and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to a workaday New Orleans reporter who covered Hurricane Katrina to a former Dallas Morning News staffer, now a strip-club bartender, who issues the dire prognosis. Attempts to save the endangered institution, we learn, include public subsidies, nonprofit ownership, and radically altered approaches to coverage. Will anything succeed? That has yet to be determined, as we face what one editor calls “an uncertain future—a critical and terrifying period.” Providing further context are interviews with press luminaries from Ben Bradlee to Dave Barry, as well as clips from the classic likes of His Girl Friday and Inherit the Wind.
For now, cartoon characters mock the irrelevancy of print on The Simpsons, worried journalists grapple with “transition,” and a University of Florida freshman named Ebben Bell tells us how, on Sunday mornings, he occasionally reads the paper with his parents. Otherwise, he goes straight to the blogs on the Internet—where, in his words, “facts can sometimes be what you want them to be.”
In cooperation with Denver Press Club, DU Dept of Mass Comm and J Studies, Colorado Society of Professional Journalists
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