When Daily News reporter Wendy Ruderman finds out she has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, she drinks her celebratory champagne toast from a tennis shoe. That's one of the high moments, among so many lows, available for our viewing pleasure in the Lenny Feinberg-produced documentary, Black and White and Dead All Over.
On Monday, the Prince Music Theater played host to the Philadelphia premiere. Black and White explores the decline of American print media, with a focus on Philly's own Daily News.
The latest at the Inquirer/Daily News could make for its own epic feature, but Black and White sets the papers' shenanigans against the national newspaper apocalypse at large. Investigative journalism is lauded as the final line of defense against injustice and corruption, both local and national.
DN reporters Ruderman and Barbara Laker's 2010 Pulitzer win, for their coverage on a corrupt police narcotics unit, is at the center of the doc. Just as Ruderman and Laker approach new career highs, the Daily News files for bankruptcy, is sold to a hedge fund, and hires Larry Platt as head editor. It is at that point that everyone sort of loses it.
The plight of the Daily News serves as a case study for the wider downfall of American print journalism. Sprinkled with red dots to mark shuttered dailies, a map of the nation resembles a measles-infected child. We hear from various experts (David Carr, Chuck Lewis) about the factors that led to the papers' demise.
The papers, they say, enter negative feedback loops as owners desperate for profitability start cutting vital investigation departments. If they remain at all, the publications are shells of their former selves, and local news coverage suffers the most.
("Jesus...does anyone have a shoe full of champagne we can have?" — City Paper editors).
The film offers some solution in the form of the nonprofit ProPublica, which produces investigative journalism pieces and republishes them in major news outlets. But that misses the mark when it comes to local news. The problem is, no one knows what the future holds. It's unclear whether we'll be able to count on our newspapers to tell us.
Black and White and Dead All Over was directed by Chris Foster and features interviews with journalists David Carr, Bob Woodward and The Center for Public Integrity's Chuck Lewis. The film airs on WHYY on Feb. 16 at 12:30 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 10 p.m. blackandwhiteanddeadallover.net.
Concert review: Lorde @ Tower Theater
[3/8] “Did you just die? I just died.” This was exclaimed not by Lorde — despite her zombie...
Icepack Illustrated: Kroll, Starr, Thicke, etc.
If Icepack Illustrated looks a little short this week, it’s due to some physical health issues...
See Braille street art in its unnatural environment — a gallery
Back in August we wrote about Braille street art, the product of a special partnership between...