The general distrust of “the media” continues to fracture the legacy landscape. While decades of readers followed the same writers and papers, the digital world moves too fast for the old models. As we watched the media ecosystem fragment, hyper-specialization became a must. That’s where startup journalism, like The 19th*, can find its target audience. Breaking the News comes from the directing trio Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez as they follow the launch of a news outlet. Embedding with the journalists gives us unprecedented access to their lives. In doing so, they reveal the trials and tribulations they face.

While The 19th* may not be known by laypeople, the organization continues to grow rapidly. As they grew from humble origins, the pieces they wrote got picked up by national newspapers. Eventually, celebrities and politicians began using 19th* as their outlet of choice. As the team starts to expand and break stories, the editors must work to ensure the vision for their teams never falter.

Perhaps the most exciting moments of Breaking the News came during some of the largest moments of the past five years. The 19th* dives into the nuances of each story and what they mean to the journalists covering the topics. The journalists and editors strive for equality but continually evolve. We get exclusive footage of Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora. They reckon with their careers and seek to shift the future of the industry. Writers, like Erinn Haines and Kate Sosin, explore their journalistic focuses and break massive stories. In the process, they spark new discussions in the culture about gender, LGBTQ+, and non-binary individuals.

The power of the images on the screen is impossible to ignore. In a time where partisanship has engulfed politics, hard-hitting newsgroups like The 19th* need to stand out. Many of the women have found their platform here, but equity and equality remain consistent dialogues within the company structure. The embedded documentarians capture these arguments as they evolve and these dialogues drive the disruptor nature of the organization.

While the Breaking the News tag comes to literally and figuratively embody their mission, there remains a disconnect between the filmmakers and journalists. Everyone seems overly honest and sincere in front of the cameras. While we get the occasional broken moments, we also find ourselves watching more polished moments. This gives Breaking the News a far more structured approach than similar documentaries. In doing so, we feel less like a fly on the wall and more like one let into the room when it was convenient for everyone.

However, Breaking the News also features many high points. Watching earnest dialogue after the debates makes the journalists relatable. Hearing writers struggle to balance life and their careers feels honest. As we watch the early stages of a new powerhouse in journalism, this documentary should stand the test of time.

Alan’s Rating: 7/10

What do you think of Breaking the News? Let us know in the comments below! Watch Breaking the News at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.

Check out our reviews and pieces from the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival here!

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