Breaking the News – Tribeca 2023

The 19th* staff works around the table with their laptops in the newsroom on launch day in Breaking the News, Photo credit: Heather Courtney.

Breaking the News follows a group of women and LGBTQ journalists as they launch The 19th* in order to change the status quo in news.

Do you ever wonder why something makes the news and another thing doesn’t? It always comes down to a publisher or editor believing one to be more important than the other. That’s how I see it anyway. I think back to watching the news cycle over the years. Look at which missing person case gets all the news coverage and which ones they ignore. This kind of goes hand in hand with what happens in Breaking the News, which focuses on politics and policy. Most of the editors working these sections in the news room are men and they’re the ones choosing which stories to cover. It really speaks to the importance of independent journalists working in media.

As a result of their frustrations, Emily Ramshaw, Amanda Zamora, and Editor-at-Large Errin Haines teamed up with other female and LGBTQ journalists to launch The 19th*. Yes, they name it after the 19th Amendment but they have the asterisk to acknowledge that the amendment did not give Black women the right to vote.

Every journalist in this documentary brings something to the table. Because of their new outlet’s focus, there are discussions here that might not happen in other news rooms. Race, gender equity, and inclusion present their own set of challenges and not just in the stories they cover. Is their own outlet meeting the same standards as a work place? Again, these are not easy conversations to have but it’s something that the entire industry needs to have. Just speaking as a transgender journalist who does not solely write about trans issues: how often do transgender journalists get included in the press tour for studio films? Could outlets be doing better? Oh, definitely.

Behind the camera, all three directors pursued a career journalism. They certainly saw the discrimination and lack of support. Some even left the field entirely, deciding to pursue different careers. One cannot help but feel that this perspective influences their approach. They spent several years following a group of journalists as the country and world were changing. We’ll see what legacy this film has in the long term but for now, it shows how some news rooms are failing their readership in choosing which stories they cover and why other outlets are commanding attention.

There are stories that never make it into the news–Breaking the News aims to show us why this is as a news startup tackles the hard questions.

DIRECTORS: Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez
FEATURING: Chabeli Carrazana, Errin Haines, Emily Ramshaw, Kate Sosin, Amanda Zamora

Breaking the News holds its world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Documentary Competition. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.