Monday, April 09, 2007

Collegian: The Movie

When I was a sophomore cops reporter in the spring of 2005, I was frequently followed by two men with cameras.

They followed me to cops briefings at the municipal building, to protests at Schwab Auditorium and through the newsroom while I was making calls about a fire.

And they must have been especially fascinated by my hair-twirling abilities because that’s about the only appearance I make in The Paper, a documentary about the Collegian’s News Division that debuted at this weekend’s Philadelphia Film Festival.

The film, directed by local filmmaker Aaron Matthews, chronicles the Collegian’s successes, failures and everything in between from fall 2004 to spring 2005.

Those of us currently working for the Collegian got to see the film a few weeks ago before its public showing.

And since then, I’ve came to terms with my lack of star quality.

In fact, I think I’m grateful I’m not much more than an “extra” in The Paper.

Truth is, the film’s not that flattering. It is, however, fair.

Drinking games aside (every time the word “circulation” is said), the opportunity to watch a 90-minute documentary about the operation I currently head was of immeasurable value.

This film was a mirror for many of us, albeit a two-year-old view.

What I saw reflected in this film more than anything else was a struggle to achieve objectivity when the subjects of a story differ somehow from the “average” Penn State student.

In one part of the film, then-editor in chief Jimmy Young clearly states that diversity training is not an endeavor the Collegian is willing to undertake.

I saw a collective cringe go through the room when he said that.

And so, The Paper is video evidence of why we have to take that step.

We’ve got some work to do, and I intend to get us started.