The Paper (1994) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • New York City tabloid Editor Henry is faced with tough decisions while he faces several serious life challenges, and a tempting job offer.

  • Henry Hackett is the editor of a New York City tabloid. He is a workaholic who loves his job, but the long hours and low pay are leading to discontent. Also, publisher Bernie White faces financial straits, and has hatchetman Alicia Clark, Henry's nemesis, impose unpopular cutbacks. Henry's wife Martha, a hugely pregnant former reporter of his, is fed up because he has so little time for his family. He is therefore considering an offer from Paul Bladden to edit a paper like the New York Times, which would mean more money, shorter hours, more respectability...but might also be a bit boring for his tastes. But a hot story soon confronts Henry with tough decisions.

  • The New York Sun is a tabloid styled daily newspaper. It does not have the same level of financial resources or prestige as, say, the New York Sentinel, a traditional broadsheet daily. Because of the Sun's status as the proverbial poor cousin, its staff in general hustles more and uses gimmicky headlines to sell newspapers. One of the primary responsibilities of the Sun's ambitious and self-serving Managing Editor, Alicia Clark, is to manage the finances, which has kept the newspaper afloat but which also has her at odds with most of the staff, especially Metro Editor Henry Hackett, who isn't going to ask his reporters to call long distance after 5pm when the rates are lower as Alicia directs. On one specific day, Henry is feeling the pain of being a Sun employee when the other New York dailies have them scooped on a story of two white businessmen from out of town who were found shot dead in their car in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, black against white racial remarks graffitied all over the vehicle. Henry also has a job interview today with Managing Editor Paul Bladden at the Sentinel, the job of Assistant Managing Editor which has greater prestige, more money and more stable 9 to 5 hours than his current job, but perhaps not as much excitement if only because of it being at the more staid Sentinel. If Henry were to take the job, it would be primarily to satisfy his eight-and-a-half month pregnant wife, Marty Hackett, an investigative journalist with the Sun currently on leave. Although she herself loves her job (but not Alicia), Marty wants Henry to take the Sentinel job for the security it would offer their baby, as opposed to Henry being married more to the Sun out of business necessity as is currently the case. Early in the day, two black youths are arrested for the Williamsburg murders, they who were seen running from the crime scene. By mid-afternoon, the editorial staff is pulled in three different directions for tomorrow's front page. Editor-in-Chief Bernie White, who has some regrets about the way he's handled his life based on its current realities, wants to run a rather benign but complete story on a minor subway train derailment. Alicia wants a headline grabbing indictment against the two youths, with a matching photo of them on the perp walk to take place later that evening. Alicia's view is despite Henry having an inside but as of yet unsubstantiated scoop that the two black youths are being scapegoated, the police well aware of their innocence. Beyond wanting the time for he and his staff to get the complete story on the youths' innocence to run as the front page story, Henry is vehemently against running Alicia's version as even if it is "reality" at the time of printing, it would ruin the two young men's lives, any retraction to that story buried in the back pages of a subsequent edition. The events of the latter half of the day to print time, which Alicia will not allow to be pushed back due to the extra labor costs, not only affects what hits the streets the next morning, but what Henry and Marty will want for their professional and personal futures.



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