Even before MTV could get "The Paper," its high school newspaper series, on the air, PBS is beating it to the punch with another "The Paper," a documentary on The Daily Collegian at Pennsylvania State University.
The 78-minute documentary, directed by veteran filmmaker Aaron Matthews, is scheduled to make its national broadcast premiere on the weekly show Independent Lens at 10 p.m. on Dec. 11, according to PBS. You can watch a preview of the documentary here.
Matthews spent six weeks in the fall of 2004 filming at The Daily Collegian, one of the nation's largest student newspapers. With a 200-person staff and a circulation that rivals that of many small-town newspapers, the paper serves as a microcosm of journalism today.
“The most fascinating thing about making THE PAPER was seeing just how much this college newsroom was our media world in miniature," Matthews says in a news release. "These students struggle to report what’s relevant, all while asking basic questions that newsmakers as well as news consumers seem to have stopped asking. The kids in THE PAPER aren’t cynical or resigned, and of course just like the professional media they don't always get it right. But they’re talking about really important issues, and confronting them head on."
James Young, the Collegian editor-in-chief at the time of the filming, reflected on the experience in his farewell column for the paper in 2005.
The film was shown on the Penn State campus on Nov. 7.
It's also been making the film festival circuit this year, with showings at the Maryland Film Festival and the Philadelphia Film Festival. You can view of slideshow of Matthews and Daily Collegian adviser John Harvey talking about the documentary at the Philadelphia Film Society site.
Those who want the DVD can rent a copy for $125 or buy one for $398 from First Run/Icarus Films.
Thanks to Pat Parish of Louisiana State University for the tip.