Newsprint on Film, a Retrospective (Death Knell)

New York City’s Film Forum theater is hosting a four week film series of newspaper-themed movies, featuring “the faded world of news diggers, gossip mongers, scoop hounds, pipe artists, scandal chasers and sob sisters,” as Clyde Haberman has it in his NYC column in today’s New York Times.

Any time something or someone is recognized in a retrospective, or a roast, or a lifetime achievement award, the implication is that the zenith has been reached. It’s all downhill from here. So implies the film festival’s this-is-your-life walk down memory lane for newspapers. One day, the festival seems to tell us, when the print and ink paper is long gone and everyone gets their news from iProducts and eReaders and cable television aHoles, Jimmy Stewart in “Call Northside 777” and Humphrey Bogart in “Deadline U.S.A.” will be how future generations will remember a forgotten industry.

“I wanted to do this series before there were no newspapers to write about,” said the theater’s repertory programming director, Bruce Goldstein. He was joking. Sort of.

Times film critic, A.O. Scott, also devoted a review to the series, proving that journalists like nothing more than writing about journalism. (Disclaimer: As a media criticism publication, it is our job here at CJR to write about journalism.)

“Where are the crusty editors and fast-talking girl reporters of yesteryear?” Scott asks. “I’m peeking over the cubicle wall, and all I see are Web producers and videographers.”

Scott suggests a sequel series on the genre of the Television Picture, featuring films like “Wag The Dog.” And, he continues: “…Maybe 50 years from now there will be a retrospective devoted to the Web News Aggregator Picture. By then, thankfully, I’ll be as dead as dead-tree journalism.”

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.