Assuming “fact” is the modern currency of television news, the “truth” about television news can be explored through the lives of those who deliver it. Staking their professional, journalistic credibility on the sole conviction that when the camera stops rolling the real story begins—two New England photojournalists-cum-filmmakers set out to explore that truth in their documentary entitled Newsman.
"Facts do not convey truth. That's a mistake. Facts create norms, but truth creates illumination."
Buoyed by Herzog’s revelation as considerable motivation for their pursuit, Dan Ferrigan and Cameron Robbins embark on a three year journey to investigate the soft underbelly of television news.
As full-time photojournalists for the large-market, New England Cable News Network—NECN—Ferrigan and Robbins experience television news as a daily, eclectic, display of extremes; comprised of the triumphs and tribulations of humankind.
Politics feature with the fanfare of a pop culture reality show. A life at its zenith is stolen by an uncontrollable road rage. Nickel-scraped Megabucks tickets from the corner bodega catapult one of the 99% into the upper tax bracket. Heavy weather indiscriminately changes a countryside in the blink of an eye. Their cameras broadcast these facts in high-definition, cinematic reportage on a 24-hour television news cycle.
The weight of being fully embedded in television news exacerbates a sobering reality for Ferrigan and Robbins. The risk of becoming desensitized to its affects. In their professional roles, the magical, bizarre world of television news is like sensational theater. When the broadcast signal ends, a raw, more visceral reality takes the stage.
Owning the mantra, “There Is No Reason This Film Should Ever Be Made!”, Ferrigan and Robbins resolve to pull back the curtain on the wizard and reveal the truth about television news; by way of its impact on the Newsman.
"In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story."
At the heart of Newsman is a human interest story about overcoming obstacles in a unique field. The protagonist is an old-school newshound who cut his teeth in the newspaper business; now turned broadcast reporter. As a professional on-air journalist he endures as a dying breed in the changing landscape of cable television news.
The process of shooting the film burdened Ferrigan and Robbins with considerable challenges. Inhabiting the life of the Newsman mandated exploration of the most intimate and major moments that occurred in his life. From its inception, the mainstay of the story—the Newsman—was staunchly opposed to the prospect. Standing at the front door of the Newsman on the first day of production, Ferrigan and Robbins found themselves stonewalled and literally had to negotiate their way into the foyer of his home. While trust continued to be a hard earned trophy early on in the production, the entire scene at the Newsman’s front door served as an apt metaphor regarding the way Ferrigan and Robbins would gain repeated entry into his post-broadcast life.
Newsman exists as a high-risk, high-reward, storytelling venture. Ferrigan and Robbins have ambitiously and dangerously exposed themselves professionally. It is a clandestine affair in which the photojournalists and the Newsman have bargained their stations at New England Cable News without the authorization or endorsement of their employer. Nor its parent company Comcast. Potentially opening a door wired with explosives, Ferrigan and Robbins have made a valiant attempt at disclosure; breaking a behind-the-scenes tale of the Newsman as their top story of the day.
Seven billion people get their news from someone. Sixty-six percent of the American population get their news through television.
On the screen, broadcast journalists effortlessly perform the ensemble of news delivery. Ferrigan and Robbins believe that when the camera stops rolling the real story begins. Newsman is their bold exhibition in pursuit of that truth.