By Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Ever hear of WikiLeaks? When the New York Times began
publishing “The War Logs”, a collection of classified military documents in
2010, many decried this as unethical and unpatriotic. The New York Times, with
members of the board from the same family that has owned it since 1896, went
with the stories and documents anyway, maintaining its journalistic
But what kind of journalism is WikiLeaks? It’s an online
entity – no paper involved at this stage if at any. Is it a news source or a
news organization? This question, and many more, is explored in this
fascinating documentary that follows four Times journalists throughout 2010 and
the morphing of a newspaper into a multiplatform source for news.
Nostalgia is present in the film as well; Carl Bernstein
talks about how the Washington Post
brought down a president with its reporting on Watergate in the 1970s.
Hard reporting, confirming details, checking sources. Then there is embarrassment, but owning up to
the worst in journalism, when New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s stories
hyped Hussein’s search for weapons of mass destruction, information that proved
to be false, but fed into President Bush’s decision to go to war.
The most interesting issue for me was about the face-off
between news as business for profit and
news as an essential element of democracy. When the Tribune Company (that owns
the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and other outlets and companies)
filed for bankruptcy protection in December, 2008, the face-off shown in the
film between businessmen who know nothing of journalism and journalists who do
what they do as a calling, made me want to stand up and cheer for freedom of
The question for the New York Times, and every other
newspaper still in existence in the United States (so many have folded –
literally), is how do you pay reporters and support news bureaus around the
world? Print advertising diminished so fast that newspapers were left gasping
for funds as loyal employees were laid off. You find revenue through online
subscriptions and online advertising, in addition to publishing the news on
“Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” only touches
the myriad issues and challenges to authentic journalism. The film is
imperative for citizens who want to participate in a democracy rather than a
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