NYT to Enter the Documentary Industry

NYT to Enter the Documentary Industry

The New York Times is often referred to as “the paper record”: one of the country’s most reliable news sources. The paper is already a multimedia production, and is now set to enter into the world of producing, writing and filming long-form documentary films.

The State of Things

The New York Times is currently thriving with its subscription model, as newspapers make a push for new subscribers due to a heightened need to fact-check the current administration. The Times features a podcast as well, providing weekly installments that go into further depth on the stories of the week and their impact. Times also hosts a scripted podcast series, entitled Modern Love.

Times at Sundance

Times will feature two films at this year’s Sundance Festival. Neither film has been made accessible through the Times’ official website, meaning they are treated as a completely separate venture from the paper itself. However, both films are set to be promoted in the paper later on this year.

An additional film is in the making, but will not be completed before the 2020 Sundance. It is said to be directed by an Oscar-nominated creator, and is based on the work of New York Times correspondence teams.

The Age of Streaming

The media world of today is the age of streaming, and the office at New York Times is very much aware. Amazing documentaries are being produced by the likes of Netflix and HBO, and the Times is determined to compete.

The Team

The production of the Times’ documentaries are currently under the direction of Sam Dolnick. His title is assistant managing editor, and his scope of work includes the mediums of audio, films and television. The first long-form documentary to come from The Times is Some Kind of Heaven: directed by Lance Oppenheim.


The cost of production won’t be covered by The New York Times alone. Instead, the paper is in co-production with other smaller companies and independent producers. One such collaborator was Davis Guggenheim’s recent venture: Concordia Studio. However, there is a limit to the creative control of those who produce these films. Once the film is completed, it will be fact-checked multiple times, as is the case with any article or journalistic piece produced by the Times. 

The Future

There is a chance that more New York Times journalists will move towards the director’s chair in the near future. Connections may also form between journalists and career directors, allowing stories to be told with greater cinematic and narrative strength.