The Paper is a fast-paced, energetic film that follows the lives of several newspaper journalists and their families during one hectic, sweltering summer day. On the surface, the film may appear to be about the trials and tribulations of a busy newsroom, but there are far more levels to be found in this dramatic comedy. The Paper chronicles the relationships of people and implores the viewer to contemplate issues of competition, trust, ethics, and loyalty.
The film begins with two, African American high school boys walking home from work late at night. They walk past a parked car and notice the bodies of two, Caucasian businessmen inside. The men have been shot to death and racial slurs have been spray painted on the doors. As the young men discover the bodies, an old woman walking her dog sees them and assumes that they have committed this heinous crime. The boys flee the scene, but are arrested for murder the next day. As more evidence is found, The Paper chronicles one newspaper's attempt to cover this story.
Henry, the main character, played by Michael Keaton, is a writer for a small, not-so-well-respected, New York City newspaper called The Sun. The Sun is no New York Times as they often run stories they think are funny and have many columnists. Henry's pregnant wife Marty, played by Marisa Tomei, is on maternity leave from the newspaper and is expecting the birth of their first child any day. After an unsuccessful attempt to capture the leading headlines for the paper the day before, Henry becomes obsessed with getting a solid headline. He sees this story of the two young men convicted of murder as the paper's chance to make up for the last day's lack of headlines and he will stop at nothing to get the real story, even if it means abandoning his pregnant wife in her time of need.
Henry's superior, Alicia, played by Glenn Close, is eternally frustrated as her co-workers never invite her out for drinks after work and show little respect for her on the job.