Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  78 minutes
Date:  2007
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 9-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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The Paper

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A year in the life of one of the country's biggest college newspapers, Penn State's The Daily Collegian, as it struggles with declining circulation and difficult choices about how to represent its diverse readership.

The Paper

By chronicling for a year the publication of Penn State University's Daily Collegian one of the nation's leading student newspapers, with a 200-person staff and a circulation rivaling that of many small-town newspapers this documentary reveals the many challenges and issues with which young journalists must contend.

These range from ethical considerations, sensitizing reporters and editors to diversity issues, and dealing with circulation woes, to struggling for access to news sources and, above all, trying to determine whether they should be informing or entertaining their readers. Utilizing a cinéma-vérité style, THE PAPER follows the editors and reporters of The Daily Collegian through their everyday routines, sits in on editorial meetings, follows reporters as they cover stories, attends classroom sessions where new reporters are trained, and interviews staff members about their particular frustrations and disappointments.

Interweaving the drama of pressure-cooker journalism with the energy and idealism of young people, THE PAPER explores the media from the fresh perspective of tomorrow's journalists. But the young reporters' dilemmas and decisions raise complicated questions about the role of the press in society. Do you lure readers by entertaining them or offering hard news? How can the media deliver the news when obstructed by wary public officials and misleading public relations campaigns? What is the media's responsibility to serve the public interest in all its diversity?

'You won't find any ivory-tower idealism in this year-in-the-life documentary about Penn State University's Daily Collegian... a natural for college journalism classes.' -Booklist

'A telling view of the wider newspaper landscape.'-Editor and Publisher

'Fascinating!'-The Philadelphia Inquirer

'An insightful new documentary.'-The Birmingham Weekly

'Authentic... I particularly recommend THE PAPER to anyone who produces a newspaper, or reads one. It tells a story, it shows truth, and it generates reactions, without taking sides.'-Andy Schotz, Quill: A Magazine for the Professional Journalist, published by the Society of Professional Journalists

'An absolute must-see for any student journalist and any person interested in the workings of news media!' ShortEnd Magazine

'What we see at the Collegian is a resonant microcosm: This paper's crucible is every paper's.' The Boston Globe

'An excellent, astonishing documentary... I was astounded to realize that by watching this newspaper evolve and survive that particular school year that I was also witnessing the evolution of a human consciousness. Newspapers reflect society and the processes that happen in the human mind. I can't recommend this film enough.'-Patricia Ethelwyn Lang, Feminist Review

'Entertaining... The production standards of the video are high and the development of the story and the characters is well executed.'-Christopher Lewis, Educational Media Reviews Online

'This is a natural for college journalism classes.'-Carol Holzberg, Booklist

*** -1/2 'An insightful, funny, and thought-provoking microcosmic look at contemporary journalism... consistently engaging... Highly recommended.'-Randy Pitman, Video Librarian


** 2007 Maryland Film Festival
** 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston
** 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival
** 2007 Atlanta Film Festival


Main credits

Matthews, Aaron (film producer)
Matthews, Aaron (film director)
Matthews, Aaron (film editor)

Other credits

Cinematography, Wayne De La Roche, Aaron Matthews; original score, Tim Nackashi; story consultant, Jennifer Mittelstadt.

Distributor credits

Aaron Matthews
A co-production of Aaron Matthews and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Docuseek2 subjects

Communication and Media Studies
Journalism and the Press
American Studies
Youth Issues

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Free Press
High School Use
Media Studies


Aaron Matthews; College newspaper; college newspapers; editing; journlists; student journalist; student journalism; Penn State; Collegian; documentary; film; video ; DVD; "The Paper"; Icarus Films;

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