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The Film

A young man reads a newspaper in a large room filled with computers on desks and bulletin boards
"This isn’t just a rinky-dink college newspaper. We have over 40,000 undergraduates and I’m manager in charge of 200 people working in the news division."
Daily Collegian
James Young

Over the last 20 years, public trust in the press has steadily declined. Documenting a crisis-filled year at Pennsylvania State University’s campus newspaper, The Daily Collegian, THE PAPER explores the vital role of the press from a fresh perspective: America's future media makers.

At a time when Penn State is churning with heated rallies, political debates and community concerns, the year's biggest stories are the Collegian's own problems. Circulation plummets amidst controversies over lack of diversity in the newsroom, faulty coverage of sexual assault and limited access to university officials.

These issues raise questions about the Collegian's future: How will the newspaper stay financially viable as well as true to its mission of being the “independent eyes and ears” of Penn State? How will journalism students deal with such issues as decreasing circulation and rising barriers to investigative reporting?

THE PAPER is a revealing portrait of the young journalists whose disillusionment and determination are shaping the news of tomorrow.


Filmmaker Aaron Matthews provided updates in October 2007 on what the people in THE PAPER have been up to since filming ended:

Laura Baker

Headshot of Laura Baker

I left Virginia21 in July 2007 to take some time off and travel. In the fall, I began the master's program in Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Kayur Patel

Headshot of Kayur Patel

I’m finishing up college and working on various design projects around campus. I'm contemplating going to law school to study the first amendment or grad school for communications research after a two-year program with Teach for America. I'm 22, single, and I enjoy long walks in Beaver Stadium.

Bridget Smith

Headshot of Bridget Smith

I left Impulse Magazine in July and moved full-time to the copy desk at its parent newspaper, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J. I love the new job, but I'd eventually like to move into reporting, if I'm going to stay in journalism. I'm also aiming to go back to school in January.

Jenny Vrentas

Headshot of Jenny Vrentas

I completed the master's program at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in May and am now a sports reporter for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. I cover a little bit of everything—football, baseball, the U.S. Open—while becoming, embarrassingly enough, a Jersey driver. My time at The Daily Collegian is what convinced me to be a journalist, and I’m anxious for the opportunity to cover a beat again, particularly football.

James Young

Headshot of James Young

After two years of laboring at a small newspaper after graduation, the lack of job opportunities in journalism encouraged me to pursue another passion: urban revitalization. I'm living in Philadelphia and in my first year as a grad student in the City Planning program at the University of Pennsylvania. Now I think about traffic circulation instead of worrying about newspaper circulation.

Related Links and Resources

Media facts and more at the filmmaker’s site.

The Daily Collegian Online
The Penn State paper featured in the film.

The State of the News Media 2007
An annual report on American journalism.

Pew Research Center Reports on News Media
How the public feels about the press today.

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