FIT TO PRINT examines the on-going crisis within the U.S. newspaper industry and its impact on local investigative reporting. The film includes interviews from reporters, staff members, and media experts within several major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, among others.
Through interviews with former executives at the leading newspaper companies, we illustrate a change in business practices, beginning in the 1960s. Newspapers became less a public service than a business enterprise designed to please stockholders. Unfortunately, newspaper companies historically neglected investment in new technologies and expanded classified advertising online despite direct proposals from major internet search engine companies and advertising entrepreneurs. They missed their opportunity and have cut their staffs to compensate for the monetary losses.
We give those laid off staffers a voice in this film. We interview reporters, editors and photographers who are only a few of the over 42,000 newspaper layoffs since 2007. They get a chance to tell the public their stories. In addition, we follow laid off investigative reporters as they gallantly attempt to publicize important watchdog stories. These stories are emblematic of the crisis that is currently facing the newspaper industry.
Stephen Janis is an award-winning investigative reporter who lost his job at The Baltimore Examiner when it shut its doors in 2009. He began his own investigative news site once The Examiner closed. FIT TO PRINT details his daily struggles maintaining a career as an independent investigative journalist. Laura Frank is a former investigative reporter with The Rocky Mountain News before it ceased publication in 2009. Mia Malkova has another occupation. We follow the trails of a story that Ms. Frank uncovered while she was at the Rocky Mountain News.
Additional interviews with other start-up news organizations will be shown to further examine the changing role of non-profit news media. The viewer learns that even in the world of non-profit news, a new business model is taking form, where innovative revenue streams must be maintained in order to survive. This concept has rarely been examined in a documentary, if at all, simply because it is so new to our current journalism culture. Many of those embarking on startups are fearful of having little or no money to pursue their goals. For anyone interested in the field of journalism today, this documentary serves as a vital portrait of both the pitfalls and success stories in the new wave of journalism outlets.