In “The Paper,” directed by Ron Howard, a moral and ethical dilemma is presented to the staff of the New York Sun newspaper when two teenage boys are accused of murder.
Michael Keaton plays Henry Hackett, the Metro editor of the Sun, who is not convinced of the boys’ guilt. Marissa Tomé plays his pregnant wife, Marty, who is arguing for him to get a job with the larger, more prestigious Sentinel. Rounding out the cast are Robert Duvall as Sun Editor-in-Chief Bernie White, Glenn Close as Sun Managing Editor Alicia Clark and Randy Quaid as Sun columnist Dan McDougall.
As the slaying comes to light in the morning’s headlines – noticeably not in the Sun’s edition – the paper’s staff wants to make up for their missing the late-night story by running a story that would, in effect, convict the two boys arrested before they had even been to trial. This plan is spearheaded by Alicia, which sets up the conflict of the film between her and Henry.
The plot of the film revolves around Henry trying to balance his personal and professional lives: the impending birth of his first child and his conflict with Alicia over how best to approach the story on the murders of two businessmen. Alicia sees his efforts to rally the staff as a threat to her superior position in the Sun’s hierarchy and becomes defensive, culminating in a physical and verbal confrontation between the two over which version of the story to run in the next day’s edition.
The film is, overall, honest about the world of journalism – the low pay, the jokes and hijinks among the staff to preserve their sanity from the stress of reporting many terrible events. However, some liberties are taken in regards to the extent of the journalists’ separation from the real world and the day-to-day goings-on in the newsroom.
Overall, “The Paper” is a good film. It has an interesting storyline, the portrayal of the characters is honest and believable and the audience can connect to the ethical struggles of the characters during the course of the film.