Letter to the Editor
This film essay consists of photographs that documentary filmmaker Alan Berliner (First Cousin, Once Removed) cut out of the New York Times over the course of 40 years and archived according to an ingenious system. The thousands of images combine to form a monument to a medium that’s under threat from all sides, not least from the digital revolution and world leaders who describe journalists as the enemy of the people. In Berliner’s words, “When I started collecting the photos, the word ‘fake’ was reserved for fur coats and art forgeries.”
In his humorous and concerned commentary, Berliner focuses on the news consumer of the distant future, for whom the newspaper will probably be an unknown concept. Wandering through his personal archive, which records both the minor and major events of world history, he demonstrates the huge role this medium—and news photography in particular—once played in people’s lives. It’s a love letter and a valediction that asks us to consider what’s gradually being lost.