New York Times Media Desk Editor Bruce Headlam appeared on “The Daily Show” Thursday night as a late substitute for Andrew Rossi, director of “Page One,” the documentary about the newspaper.
During a six-and-a-half minute segment, Headlam talked with host Jon Stewart about reporter Brian Stelter, aggregation and why online ads don’t yet support journalism. He also spoke about his reluctance to participate in the documentary:
“I was nervous. I didn’t want to do it. But it was presented to me by Bill Keller, my boss, and I said that enough of my reporters wanted to do it that I would go along with it. But I wasn’t in favor of it at all … I was skeptical because I thought … ‘We cover the media, we’re not the most important part of the Times.’ Nobody’s shooting at us. You know, we cover FOX News. … We don’t actually have to drive through checkpoints to get to FOX News. …
“The minute Andrew started filming, WikiLeaks happened, we had layoffs, our stock plummeted. Many people were predicting our demise. Many people were cheering our demise. So probably six months later I’m not sure we would have welcomed Andrew quite the way we did at that point.”
Stewart observed that media reporter Brian Stelter appears in the film to be encouraging the older Times staff to embrace newer tools. Headlam responds:
“Brian urges all of us to embrace Twitter. I urge Brian to send his expenses to Twitter. That doesn’t seem to have taken hold yet.
“I think he’s a good example. David Carr — who many people might know — is another good example. It’s really a place in transition. And I don’t want the film to be seen as ‘Old, grumpy newspaper here’ and ‘Here are the cool kids, here.’ It’s very fluid. The Times website is a massive website. The reporters are on Twitter, they’re on Facebook, they do all those things.”
Headlam joked that the last time a camera crew was allowed at the Times, it was the crew from “The Daily Show,” which interviewed Bill Keller in a segment that was more cringe-worthy than entertaining.