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Deep Backgrounds: Landscapes of Labor in All the President’s Men

Nathan Holmes

Abstract | Although com­mon­ly under­stood as jour­nal­is­tic thriller tied to the his­tor­i­cal real­i­ties of the Water­gate inves­ti­ga­tion, Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men is deeply imbri­cat­ed in con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous ideas about office design and white col­lar labor. Draw­ing on the film’s pro­duc­tion his­to­ry, as well as dis­cours­es around knowl­edge work, office fur­nish­ings, and the chang­ing role of paper in office work, this essay places All the President’s Men along a dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry, one in which Hol­ly­wood cin­e­ma elab­o­rates, expres­sive­ly re-stages, and fan­ta­sizes the white-col­lar workspace.

Résumé | Bien que com­muné­ment inter­prété comme un polar basé sur les réal­ités his­toriques de l’enquête du Water­gate, All the President’s Men (Les Hommes du prési­dent) d’Alan Paku­la est pro­fondé­ment imprégné des idées con­tem­po­raines sur l’organisation des bureaux et le tra­vail des cols-blancs. S’inspirant de l’histoire de la pro­duc­tion de ce film, ain­si que du dis­cours sur le tra­vail de con­nais­sance, l’ameublement des bureaux et le change­ment dans le rôle du papi­er dans le bureau, cet essai replace All the President’s Men dans une tra­jec­toire his­torique, dans laque­lle le ciné­ma hol­ly­woo­d­i­en développe, remet en scène et rêve le lieu de tra­vail des cols-blancs.

One saw them run around, shout at one anoth­er, and type­write side by side in tremen­dous, noisy rooms where no one could pos­si­bly be con­cen­trat­ed; yet despite this chaos the news­pa­per nev­er failed to appear and to pros­per. The breath­less con­fu­sion of the editor’s offices seemed to mir­ror that of Amer­i­can busi­ness life in general.

—Siegfried Kra­cauer, “Why France Liked Our Films” (37)

For film audi­ences of the mid-1970s, the imme­di­ate force of All the President’s Men (1976) was its nat­u­ral­is­tic expo­si­tion of the inves­tiga­tive work that led to the con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion of the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion. The prox­im­i­ty of the film’s release to the events depict­ed ensured top­i­cal­i­ty but also pre­sent­ed the prob­lem of, as direc­tor Alan J. Paku­la put it, “drums rolling in the back­ground” (774). As Paku­la under­stood, histri­on­ic mon­u­men­tal­i­ty threat­ened a sober recount­ing of the facts: “I was very con­cerned that the actors might hear a sym­phon­ic orches­tra play­ing John Phillip Sousa every time they walked on set think­ing: ‘Here is our great con­tri­bu­tion to Amer­i­can his­to­ry!’” (774) To damp­en this patri­ot­ic aura, Paku­la and pro­duc­er Robert Red­ford devel­oped the film accord­ing to a doc­u­men­tary aes­thet­ic (Red­ford even want­ed to film in black-and-white ver­ité style). Togeth­er with cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er Gor­don Willis and set design­er George Jenk­ins, Paku­la cre­at­ed set­tings that would under­score the banal­i­ty of jour­nal­is­tic labour. Icon­ic D.C. loca­tions were mixed with a pre­pon­der­ance of archi­tec­tur­al sites at once mod­ern and mun­dane: the back entrance of the Water­gate Hotel, a con­crete park­ing garage, the con­dos and sub­ur­ban homes of CREEP col­lab­o­ra­tors and wit­ness­es, a McDonald’s, and, most promi­nent­ly, the open-plan news­room floor of the Wash­ing­ton Post.

All the President’s Men’s nose-to-the-ground pro­ce­dur­al detail is wide­ly appre­ci­at­ed, but with increas­ing his­tor­i­cal dis­tance it is the film’s illu­mi­na­tion of the every­day work­places of jour­nal­ism as much as the polit­i­cal moment it chron­i­cles that shifts into the fore­ground. The milieu from which Wood­ward and Bern­stein stalk the White House, dense with paper and paper­work, hums with pre-dig­i­tal, eve-of-com­put­ing con­tem­po­rane­ity. In shy­ing away from a his­to­ry with a cap­i­tal-H aes­thet­ic, the film pulls clos­er to the every­day life of the news­room, track­ing away from con­ven­tion­al icons of Amer­i­can pow­er and down­ward toward a micro­scop­ic view of the quo­tid­i­an mate­ri­als, inte­ri­or sur­faces, and social rhythms of a mod­ern office. As Siegfried Kra­cauer observed, Hol­ly­wood used jour­nal­ism as an alle­gor­i­cal frame to explore the more gen­er­al­ized space of busi­ness life. In All the President’s Men, this alle­gor­i­cal frame is sus­tained and fil­tered through New Hol­ly­wood cin­e­matog­ra­phy and pro­duc­tion design in order to man­i­fest the most up-to-date con­tours of office life.

The deeply encod­ed, office work-relat­ed appeals of All the President’s Men become clear­er when the film’s set­ting and stag­ing is exam­ined in rela­tion to the con­stel­la­tion of dis­cours­es, designs, and spa­tio-tem­po­ral expe­ri­ences that gath­ered around con­tem­po­rary forms of white-col­lar labour between the 1950s and 1980s. Pro­duced dur­ing an era when the con­fig­u­ra­tions of this work were being rethought by design­ers, man­age­ment the­o­rists, and infor­ma­tion soci­ety thinkers in order to cen­ter “knowl­edge work­ers” with­in infor­ma­tion-dense spaces, the film welds a real­ist adher­ence to the mate­r­i­al atmos­phere of office life with the fan­ta­sy of jour­nal­ism as an exem­plary form of white-col­lar labour. Through the aim of accu­rate­ly depict­ing the con­tem­po­rary work­spaces of The Wash­ing­ton Post by metic­u­lous­ly repro­duc­ing its fur­nish­ings and lay­outs, the pro­duc­tion of the film also embed­ded, both inci­den­tal­ly and uncon­scious­ly, the phys­i­cal dis­cours­es and chore­o­gra­phies of the mod­ern office, which it viv­i­fied through a nar­ra­tive of inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism. The result is the dra­mat­ic stag­ing of a work­place char­ac­ter­ized by flat­tened hier­ar­chies, knowl­edge-based and pur­pose-dri­ven pro­fes­sion­al­ism, free com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and an unen­cum­bered lat­i­tude of bod­i­ly move­ment. While these same attrib­ut­es will even­tu­al­ly coa­lesce around the rhetoric of the neolib­er­al work­place, in this iter­a­tion they com­bine to gen­er­ate a sense of the way non-alien­at­ed labour might look and feel. Look­ing close­ly at the coor­di­na­tion of pro­duc­tion design, cin­e­matog­ra­phy, and stag­ing in All the President’s Men reveals a pop­u­lar work that strives not just to be a real­ist doc­u­ment of jour­nal­is­tic procedure—a filmed report on reportage—nor sim­ply a reflec­tion of the shift­ing sur­faces of busi­ness life, but an expres­sive elab­o­ra­tion of the utopi­an promise of the Amer­i­can workplace.

At stake in ana­lyz­ing this stag­ing is an under­stand­ing of how Amer­i­can cinema’s civic engagements—its top­i­cal lib­er­al projects, from Paku­la to Spielberg—rest on attune­ments to the gener­ic spa­tio-tem­po­ral expe­ri­ence and phys­i­cal sup­ports that char­ac­ter­ize a shared world; in this case, the shared world of office life. This phys­i­cal imbri­ca­tion chal­lenges the con­cep­tion of white-col­lar labor, emer­gent in dis­cours­es of knowl­edge work, as pri­mar­i­ly abstract, men­tal, or imma­te­r­i­al. It also broach­es the prob­lem con­front­ed by Kra­cauer in his ear­ly study of white-col­lar work­ers in Ger­many, Die Angestell­ten (The Salaried Mass­es, 1930): the man­ner in which the com­mon­place nature of white-col­lar work “pro­tects it from dis­cov­ery.” “[J]ust like the ‘Let­ter to Her Majesty’ in Edgar Allan Poe’s tale,” Kra­cauer writes, “nobody notices the let­ter because it is out on dis­play” (29). This invis­i­bly present exis­tence meant that an image of class iden­ti­ty for the white-col­lar work­er was imped­ed. Nei­ther pro­le­tar­i­an nor bour­geois, the emer­gent class of office work­er lacked the cohe­sion that cul­tur­al imagery might pro­vide. Yet, writ­ing lat­er in “Why France Loved Our Films” [1942], Kra­cauer found that the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism film helped pro­vide a glimpse of this imagery, offer­ing dense visu­al con­struc­tions of an office life-world that had been so elu­sive in the Weimar era. All the President’s Men sus­tains this ten­den­cy, draw­ing on the top­i­cal urgency of a his­tor­i­cal jour­nal­is­tic inves­ti­ga­tion to dis­play white-col­lar labour, con­vert­ing a space oth­er­wise per­vad­ed by the sta­t­ic triv­i­al­i­ty of cor­po­rate cul­ture into an expres­sive land­scape of action.

Office Cinema & Paperwork

An ecosys­tem of white-col­lar locales—the office, the ele­va­tor, the lob­by, the com­muter train—has, how­ev­er inter­mit­tent­ly, been imag­i­na­tive­ly devel­oped across var­i­ous cycles of Amer­i­can cin­e­ma. In pre-code films such as Sky­scraper Souls (1932) and Baby­face (1933), the office tow­er was the stage for dra­mas of gen­der pol­i­tics, class mobil­i­ty, and exploita­tion (Schleier 59-118). Lat­er, in films such as Desk Set (1957) and The Apart­ment (1960), these same spaces become set­tings for romance and dark com­e­dy.1 Although the office has only occa­sion­al­ly fig­ured as a cen­tral­iz­ing nar­ra­tive site dur­ing the Clas­si­cal era writ large (excep­tions, in addi­tion to the above, include Exec­u­tive Suite [1954], Pat­terns [1956], The Best of Every­thing [1959]), the open-plan offices glimpsed in The Apart­ment, The Crowd (1928), and the open­ing of Disney’s Goofy short Two Weeks Vaca­tion (1952), with their undif­fer­en­ti­at­ed rec­ti­lin­ear rows of steel desks, became a rec­og­niz­able short­hand for con­vey­ing mid­dle-class alienation—a short­hand ris­ing to deliri­ous heights of dis­tor­tion and sur­re­al­ism in The Tri­al (1962), 1984 (1984), and Brazil (1985).

Fol­low­ing Kracauer’s lead, we can map a more con­sis­tent cin­e­mat­ic geneal­o­gy of the types of office activ­i­ty rep­re­sent­ed in All the President’s Men not by way of office films but via the jour­nal­ism film. From the Warn­er Bros. films of the 1930s and 1940s such as Five Star Final (1931) and His Girl Fri­day (1940, a remake of The Front Page), through to Hen­ry Hathaway’s Call North­side 777 (1948), Joseph Losey’s The Law­less (1950), Syd­ney Pollack’s Absence of Mal­ice (1982), Ron Howard’s The Paper (1994), David Fincher’s Zodi­ac (2007), Tom McCarthy’s Spot­light (2015), and Steven Spielberg’s The Post (2018), films based around the prac­tices of report­ing have been a reli­able and endur­ing form in Amer­i­can cin­e­ma. Unit­ing nar­ra­tives of inves­ti­ga­tion and pro­ce­dure with themes of pub­lic good and the eth­i­cal bound­aries between infor­ma­tion and sen­sa­tion, gen­res of reportage enter­tain under civic cov­er. Although the news­room resem­bles the gener­ic open-plan office, the jour­nal­is­tic labour that is fic­tion­al­ized into genre (often­times by screen­writ­ers who began their careers as reporters, such as Ben Hecht, Samuel Fuller, and Richard Brooks) offers the pos­si­bil­i­ty of plots more dynam­ic than the sto­ries spun from white-col­lar rou­tine. Seg­ment­ed into var­i­ous departments—the city desk, sports, the social column—the spa­tial orga­ni­za­tion of the news­room becomes a micro­cosm of the city itself, from which it receives and trans­lates var­i­ous mes­sages. Fur­ther­more, just as the dis­tri­b­u­tion and seri­al­i­ty of the news defines and shapes the rhythms of urban life, so too does the tem­po­ral­i­ty of the news­room alter­nate between peri­ods of idle wait­ing and intense, dead­line-focused activity.

In his brief his­to­ry of the genre, jour­nal­ism his­to­ri­an Thomas Zyn­da observes that where­as in the 1930s and 1940s, jour­nal­ism films tend­ed to focus on edi­tors and jour­nal­ists as indi­vid­ual figures—for exam­ple, as cru­sad­ing inves­ti­ga­tors in Losey’s The Law­less or sen­sa­tion­al­ist oppor­tunists in Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951)—beginning in the 1950s films such as Richard Brooks’ Dead­line U.S.A. (1952), Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps (1956), or Jack Webb’s -30- (1959) shift­ed focus to news orga­ni­za­tions them­selves, giv­ing greater promi­nence to the tech­niques, mate­ri­als, and coor­di­na­tion of news­pa­per pro­duc­tion (19). As news­room films became more embed­ded in a sin­gle set­ting, they also began to invoke the spa­tio-tem­po­ral expe­ri­ence of gener­ic office work phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal­ly in a more sus­tained way. As Kra­cauer intu­its, jour­nal­ists on film were office work­ers: they inhab­it­ed open-plan work­places, answered to man­agers, rode ele­va­tors, made and con­sumed cof­fee, and, in the most lit­er­al sense, pushed paper.2

In the same way that the TV series “The Office” (2001-2003, remade 2005-2013) under­lines the vacu­ity of office work by por­tray­ing the labour of a sales team that actu­al­ly sells paper, the news­room film mag­ni­fies the expe­ri­ence of the office by trans­mut­ing its mate­r­i­al con­tents into an objec­tive and often tran­scen­dent com­mon cause. All of the dif­fer­ent gen­res and for­mats of paper that com­prise office life become a sin­gle enti­ty and demo­c­ra­t­ic instru­ment: the paper. While phys­i­cal­ly sim­i­lar to the office film in many respects, the news­room film plots the means of pro­duc­tion itself, ani­mat­ing rather than dead­en­ing the phys­i­cal plant of the office. Instead of the stock set­ting of mid­dle-class anomie, the cin­e­mat­ic news­room becomes a locale asso­ci­at­ed with pro­fes­sion­al­ized prob­lem-solv­ing and goal-ori­ent­ed action. Rather than the numb­ing abstrac­tions of white-col­lar work, news pro­duc­tion deals in con­crete knowl­edge for the pub­lic good. As a cin­e­mat­ic chrono­tope (time-space), the news­room presents a utopi­an ver­sion of office life, a place for paper to mean something.

Office Landscapes & Knowledge Workers

The kinet­ic nature of the news­room in Hol­ly­wood cin­e­ma par­al­lels trans­for­ma­tions in con­cep­tions of office work and design that were per­co­lat­ing in the 1960s and 1970s. Through the 1950s, offices were laid out in grid-like designs with iden­ti­cal desks fac­ing for­ward, as in a school class­room. Around the mid-cen­tu­ry, the Ger­man man­age­ment group Quick­borner advanced the idea of “büroland­schaft” or “office land­scape,” which intro­duced organ­ic, non-orthog­o­nal vari­a­tion into office lay­outs (fig­ure 1). Fea­tur­ing a mix­ture of plants and desk group­ings, this design favored non-lin­ear path­ways and mul­ti­ple meet­ing sites to encour­age employ­ee inter­ac­tion. In the 1960s, research and devel­op­ment car­ried out by Robert Prob­st for the Michi­gan-based fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­tur­er Her­man Miller con­tin­ued in the same vein, result­ing in the pro­duc­tion of a new office sys­tem named “Action Office.” Like the con­cept of bür­lan­doschaft, the Action Office advanced ideals of an open-plan work­place that could organ­i­cal­ly facil­i­tate infor­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, work­er auton­o­my, and orga­ni­za­tion­al flex­i­bil­i­ty through low-par­ti­tions, cel­lu­lar group­ings of desks, and mod­u­lar parts that could be adapt­ed to meet worker’s needs. Probst’s sequel to the Action Office, Action Office 2, refined his design con­cepts and was accom­pa­nied by a lav­ish­ly designed book, The Office: A Facil­i­ty Based on Change (1968), that out­lined the issues sur­round­ing the mod­ern work­place and the con­cepts behind the Action Office system.

Fig­ure 1

Probst’s his­tor­i­cal sur­vey of office design and his diag­no­sis of its many prob­lems is fol­lowed in the book by a series of often abstruse prin­ci­ples behind the user- (worker)-friendly design of the Action Office:

[The Action Office 2] is an imple­ment­ing tool-con­cept rec­on­cil­ing new soft­ware plan­ning with the hard­ware of coor­di­nat­ed behav­ior. Its aim is to be respon­sive to the goals of the user. It aims at mod­er­at­ing the impact of diverse and com­pet­i­tive tech­nol­o­gy on the user. It pro­vides a com­bi­na­tion of dis­ci­pline and per­mis­sive­ness in appro­pri­ate measure…disciplined in that it lim­its and pro­tects from chaot­ic, unreg­u­lat­ed complexity…permissive in that it allows wide expres­sion and re-expres­sion for both the indi­vid­ual and the orga­ni­za­tion. (33)

As Prob­st sug­gests, a car­di­nal prob­lem fac­ing the mod­ern work­place was an issue that would become more pop­u­lar­ly known, fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock (1970), as “infor­ma­tion over­load.” Probst’s name for this phe­nom­e­non was “the big com­mu­ni­ca­tion acci­dent,” and Action Office 2 addressed itself specif­i­cal­ly to stream­lin­ing, brack­et­ing, and divert­ing the mul­ti­tudi­nous flows of infor­ma­tion that mod­ern work­ers were tasked to nav­i­gate (14).

Occu­py­ing these new work­spaces was a new fig­ure: the knowl­edge work­er. Like the Ger­man salaried class­es chron­i­cled by Kra­cauer in the 1930s, post­war Amer­i­ca saw the emer­gence of a new class of work­er, one who like­wise seemed caught between pro­le­tar­i­an and bour­geois iden­ti­ty. One issue afflict­ing this new class had to do with the inde­ter­mi­nate nature of the skills that were required of them. Writ­ing of the “com­put­er pro­gram­mers, accounts receiv­able flow ana­lysts, the low­er lev­els of con­trol and stock pro­cess­ing in bro­ker­age hous­es” that com­prised the new work stra­tum with­in the white-col­lar sphere, Richard Sen­nett observed that they were “nei­ther in con­trol of the use of their own skills, nor per­form­ing tasks which are so rou­tine any­one of the street could imme­di­ate­ly do them, the mem­bers of this spe­cial cat­e­go­ry… have as yet not group iden­ti­ty, no class cul­ture in which to pic­ture them­selves” (404). The inven­tion of the knowl­edge work­er sought to resolve this quandary, if only on the lev­el of self-image In his illu­mi­nat­ing cul­tur­al his­to­ry of the office, Cubed: A Secret His­to­ry of the Work­place (2014), Nikil Saval chron­i­cles how the man­age­ment the­o­ries of Peter Druck­er and Fritz Machlup con­struct­ed the knowl­edge work­er as some­one capa­ble of apply­ing spe­cial­ized and cross-dis­ci­pli­nary knowl­edge to the com­plex prob­lems of their field. The auton­o­my of knowl­edge work, they argued, had the pow­er to flat­ten work­place hier­ar­chies, shrink­ing the neces­si­ty for an over­bear­ing man­age­r­i­al class. For his part, Prob­st seems to bal­ance the ten­sion between man­age­ment and labour in his writ­ings with a con­sis­tent appeal to both work­ers as self-deter­mined indi­vid­u­als and the over­ar­ch­ing neces­si­ty of dis­ci­pline. As Saval points out, how­ev­er, the fog­gy dis­course of the knowl­edge work­er that devel­oped with­in man­age­ment tracts was large­ly an anx­ious response to a his­tor­i­cal­ly overe­d­u­cat­ed and under­stim­u­lat­ed labour force. It was devel­oped, in oth­er words, not accord­ing to demand but sup­ply: “The jobs had not got­ten more com­plex,” Saval points out, but “the indi­vid­u­als work­ing in them had.” Knowl­edge work “seemed to answer to a felt need, a spir­it of anx­i­ety in the work­force itself rather than a change in the kinds of work being done” (198).

The antic­i­pa­to­ry descrip­tions of the knowl­edge work­er were par­tic­u­lar­ly appo­site to the con­tours of the post-indus­tri­al infor­ma­tion soci­ety out­lined by Daniel Bell, Alan Touraine, and oth­er social the­o­rists in the 1970s. As post-indus­tri­al Amer­i­ca piv­ot­ed from man­u­fac­tur­ing towards goods and ser­vices, the knowl­edge work­er would deal pri­mar­i­ly in infor­ma­tion, con­duct­ing men­tal rather than phys­i­cal work in an econ­o­my that was now shift­ing toward the pro­duc­tion of intan­gi­ble or sym­bol­ic goods. The abstrac­tion and intel­lec­tu­al­i­ty imput­ed to knowl­edge work also com­bined with a rhetoric of dema­te­ri­al­iza­tion that began to occlude the phys­i­cal expe­ri­ence of office life, par­tic­u­lar­ly as net­worked desk­top com­put­ers became the pri­ma­ry medi­um of infor­ma­tion and cal­cu­la­tion (a rhetoric sus­tained with­in the dis­course of wire­less and cloud com­put­ing). Just as the labour of knowl­edge work was now iden­ti­fied with dis­em­bod­ied men­tal oper­a­tions, so too was data now invis­i­bly flow­ing between the impen­e­tra­ble array of beige and gray machines tak­ing up sig­nif­i­cant office real estate.3 Yet for all these pop­u­lar fore­casts, white-col­lar work remained teth­ered to gener­ic open-plan inte­ri­ors con­sti­tut­ed by desks, type­writ­ers, rolling chairs, water cool­ers, flu­o­res­cence, and an ever-diver­si­fy­ing mul­ti­tude of paper prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies. The descrip­tion of knowl­edge work by econ­o­mist Fritz Machlup in fact alludes to the per­va­sive mate­ri­al­i­ty of the office; he describes knowl­edge work­ers as “all the peo­ple whose work con­sists of con­fer­ring, nego­ti­at­ing, plan­ning, direct­ing, read­ing note-tak­ing, writ­ing, draw­ing, blue-print­ing, cal­cu­lat­ing, dic­tat­ing, tele­phon­ing, card-punch­ing, typ­ing, multi­graph­ing, record­ing, check­ing, and many oth­ers” (41). Like Prob­st, Machlup under­stood the obsti­nate­ly phys­i­cal uni­verse of prac­tices and mate­ri­als that defined work with­in an office. The rise of com­put­ers notwith­stand­ing, knowl­edge work, like the office work of most of the 20th cen­tu­ry, still meant paper work, even if paper was now cir­cu­lat­ing and aggre­gat­ing in new ways. Knowl­edge work­ers, just like all white-col­lar work­ers, exist­ed with­in a con­tem­po­rary object-world that was invis­i­bly present. Lack­ing an image of them­selves and their place in the world, the actu­al­i­ty of the knowl­edge work­er, such as it was, faced a fate much like Poe’s pur­loined let­ter, pro­tect­ed from dis­cov­ery by mundaneness.

Wide-Screen Corporate Modernism

Through the 1970s, Alan Pakula’s films exhib­it a keen eye for the neglect­ed recess­es of the built envi­ron­ment. In an inter­view in Film Com­ment pub­lished short­ly after the release of All the President’s Men, Paku­la declared that he “loved to use archi­tec­ture to dra­ma­tize soci­ety” (qtd. in Thomp­son 16). This state­ment gains con­crete­ness in the mise-en-scène of his “para­noia tril­o­gy,” which in addi­tion to All the President’s Men includes Klute (1971) and The Par­al­lax View (1974) (Pakula’s less­er-known finan­cial thriller Rollover [1981] also fits styl­is­ti­cal­ly and the­mat­i­cal­ly with the series). Work­ing with Gor­don Willis on cam­era and George Jenk­ins as pro­duc­tion design­er on all three of these films, Paku­la evinces a par­tic­u­lar pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the land­scapes of cor­po­rate mod­ernism. In Klute, the vil­lain (Charles Ciof­fi) is an exec­u­tive of the bland­ly named Tole-Amer­i­can Cor­po­ra­tion who resides in a panop­tic Man­hat­tan sky­scraper suite pro­vid­ing eye-lev­el views of the World Trade Cen­ter tow­ers (still under con­struc­tion at the time). Inte­ri­ors and exte­ri­ors for these scenes were shot a few blocks from the WTC con­struc­tion site at the black cur­tain-walled Marine Mid­land Build­ing, a descen­dant of the Mid­town vogue for Sea­gram-like sky­scrap­ers and designed by Gor­don Bun­shaft of Skid­more, Owings, & Mer­rill. The Par­al­lax View also cen­ters on banal cor­po­rate evil, this time in the form of the Par­al­lax Cor­po­ra­tion, a shad­owy orga­ni­za­tion that orches­trates polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions. Large-scale civic land­marks of the Pacif­ic North­west such as the Space Nee­dle and the Gorge Dam are key set­tings in the film, and so too are the aus­tere head­quar­ters of the tit­u­lar cor­po­ra­tion, par­tial­ly sit­ed in the undu­lat­ing con­crete tile plaza of the Cen­tral Civ­il West Court House in Los Ange­les. The down­beat end­ing for the film takes place in the cav­ernous, recent­ly com­plet­ed Los Ange­les Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, designed by West Coast mod­ernist Charles Luckman.

In con­join­ing mod­ern archi­tec­tur­al space to an anx­ious vision of con­tem­po­rary soci­ety, Paku­la was uphold­ing a tra­di­tion with­in Amer­i­can film­mak­ing that had been most heav­i­ly pro­nounced with­in film noir. As Edward Dimend­berg and Vivian Sobchack have bril­liant­ly shown, mid-cen­tu­ry noir was a sin­gu­lar venue for the pop­u­lar expres­sion of spa­tial estrange­ment in Amer­i­can cul­ture. Noir had only recent­ly entered the Amer­i­can ver­nac­u­lar in the ear­ly 1970s, but Paku­la was a devo­tee of 1940s thrillers, and his films with Willis as cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er (famous­ly nick­named the “Prince of Dark­ness” for his work on The God­fa­ther) graft noir sen­si­bil­i­ty onto emer­gent New Hol­ly­wood aes­thet­ics. The spaces Paku­la cre­at­ed with Willis for Klute and The Par­al­lax View are exces­sive­ly deep, and the 2.35:1 Panav­i­sion frame allows a play with archi­tec­tur­al vol­umes that fre­quent­ly crowd and con­fine actors. These graph­ic struc­tur­al ele­ments are flat and opaque—geometrically block­ing out both long shots and close-ups. Paku­la and Willis’s cin­e­mato­graph­ic aes­thet­ic is expres­sive, but not expres­sion­is­tic in the con­ven­tion­al sense. As Dana Polan has remarked, “[noir’s] expres­sion­ism is most often not the tri­umph of a sub­jec­tiv­i­ty in which envi­ron­ment some­how reflects back to a char­ac­ter his/her own inter­nal nature but quite the con­trary, an expres­sion­ism that demon­strates the rad­i­cal exter­nal­i­ty and alter­i­ty of envi­ron­ment to per­son­al­i­ty” (qtd. in Sobchack 144). Willis’s images ply sim­i­lar ter­ri­to­ry, pre­sent­ing a mod­ernist land­scape both famil­iar and claustrophobic.

The D.C. set­ting of All the President’s Men allows Paku­la to fur­ther devel­op the archi­tec­tur­al vision estab­lished by Klute and The Par­al­lax View. Yet while the third film in the para­noia tril­o­gy con­tin­ues to ampli­fy the anx­ious nature of cor­po­rate mod­ernism, it also departs from a per­va­sive sense of noir-inflect­ed doom. Instead, he builds a space that rewires fig­ure-ground rela­tion­ships of depth, scale, and move­ment along the lines of both the jour­nal­ism genre and dis­cours­es of office work, empha­siz­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als gain­ing footholds of agency with­in mod­ernist environments.

Deep Spaces, Purloined Papers

Perhaps more than any jour­nal­ism or office film that pre­ced­ed it, All the President’s Men com­mit­ted itself to ampli­fy­ing the mate­ri­al­i­ty of con­tem­po­rary office life. Six months before the actu­al Bob Wood­ward and Carl Bern­stein began to report on Water­gate, the Wash­ing­ton Post had moved into a new, ful­ly updat­ed news­room (Paku­la 774). With its exposed ceil­ings, the old­er Post news­room was dark­er than the updat­ed space, which fea­tured flu­o­res­cent light­ing sus­pend­ed with­in drop-ceil­ings. The new design offered not only a brighter space, but also a series of straight lines van­ish­ing into the dis­tance, cre­at­ing the sense of a vast inte­ri­or space—perspectival grids that res­onat­ed with the mod­ernism that Paku­la had explored in his pre­vi­ous films. Since Robert Red­ford, whose Wild­wood Enter­pris­es was pro­duc­ing the film, was keen­ly inter­est­ed in an exact­ing doc­u­men­tary aes­thet­ic, this updat­ed space would of course need to be depict­ed as close­ly as pos­si­ble in his film’s ver­sion of the reporter’s investigation.

Red­ford and Paku­la had orig­i­nal­ly hoped to shoot inte­ri­ors on loca­tion at the Post, but it soon became clear this would be imprac­ti­cal. Instead, it was decid­ed that a repli­ca of the news­room would be con­struct­ed at the Bur­bank Stu­dios of Warn­er Broth­ers. The repro­duc­tion of the Post offices was 32,000 square feet and neces­si­tat­ed remov­ing a wall in the sound­stage to gain extra space. The repli­ca of the Post’s light­ing also nec­es­sar­i­ly became a prac­ti­cal light­ing source for the set since the ceil­ing con­struc­tion ruled out con­ven­tion­al over­head lights. Around 700 flu­o­res­cent light­ing units were installed—although the bal­lasts that pow­ered the lights had to be wired remote­ly to the tubes because of the hum they emit­ted (Willis 520). The fin­ished con­struc­tion was fur­nished with cus­tom-made desks that repro­duced the new col­or-cod­ed desk group­ings at the Post, out­fit­ted with an array of oper­a­tional tele­type machines and tele­phones and, final­ly, dressed with a mam­moth assort­ment of paper clutter.

Paper of all kinds fills every frame of All the President’s Men that is set in the news­room (fig­ure 2), the result of exten­sive cre­ative work with paper prod­ucts and office fur­nish­ings by art direc­tor George Jenk­ins (who had also worked on Klute and The Par­al­lax View) and set dec­o­ra­tor George Gaines (joint­ly win­ning the Acad­e­my Award for Art Direc­tion that year). Just as Paku­la and the film’s cast spent months in the news­room observ­ing the dai­ly rou­tines of the reporters, so too was Jenk­ins invit­ed to see the actu­al news­room he was tasked to recre­ate. Hav­ing researched and put togeth­er a set depict­ing the inte­ri­or of a small-town news­pa­per for The Par­al­lax View, Jenk­ins was some­what famil­iar with this rou­tine. How­ev­er, when he final­ly got to see the news­room of the Post, he recalled that his “heart sank”: “I real­ized that it was vir­tu­al­ly an impos­si­ble job,” Jenk­ins stat­ed, “It was so enormous—I saw a thou­sand details in just a glance” (qtd. in Corliss and Clarens 48). Unlike The Par­al­lax View, for All the President’s Men Jenk­ins and Gaines were respon­si­ble for an entire acre of set. Jenk­ins’ desk plan for the Post set almost iden­ti­cal­ly match­es the desk group­ings of the actu­al 7th floor news­room. Per the plan of the Post floor in Jenk­ins’ file, the plan for the set fea­tures clus­ters of 2-6 desks 8 rows deep and 4 rows across (George Jenk­ins Papers, fold­er 37).4 The posi­tion of Wood­ward and Bernstein's desks rel­a­tive to each oth­er in the film also cor­re­sponds to the actu­al posi­tion of the reporter's desks in the D.C. news­room. While some of the desks and fur­nish­ings were repro­duc­tions built for the film, oth­er fur­nish­ings (such as auto­mat­ed fil­ing sys­tems) and machines (such as tele­types) were acquired direct­ly through office sup­ply com­pa­nies. Jenk­ins’ files con­tain brochures for prod­ucts offered by Her­man Miller, Bell Tele­phone, and Sim­plex Time Recorder Co., some cov­ered with notes on prices (indi­cat­ing that imple­ments were both recon­struct­ed and pur­chased directly).

One of the most oft-repeat­ed sto­ries about the film’s pro­duc­tion is that Jenk­ins went so far as to request the con­tents of waste­bas­kets at The Post so that the waste­bas­kets on set could be filled with authen­tic garbage. Jenk­ins, how­ev­er, tells a slight­ly dif­fer­ent story:

Now I want to set the record straight here: I did not bring any garbage or con­tents of scrap bas­kets from Wash­ing­ton to Hol­ly­wood. What I did was go to Howard Simons, The Post’s man­ag­ing edi­tor, and say: “I need stuff to put on the desks, and I don’t want it to be old scripts topped off with a let­ter from some­body who’s been work­ing in Warn­er Broth­ers for the last twen­ty years. I want all the reporters to have mate­r­i­al on their desks that they would nor­mal­ly have. We have three months before we shoot. If you’ll allow me to put a card­board box by every desk, then your reporters will put in the box­es the let­ters and mag­a­zines they’d nor­mal­ly throw out.” Three months lat­er, we had sev­en­ty-five box­es of flat paper and books, etc. We then pho­tographed the top of every desk as well as made a list of what was there. Then in Hol­ly­wood, when it came to dress the Post set, we were able to put this mate­r­i­al on the appro­pri­ate desks. Howard Simon said to me, “George, you know that you’re going to get ter­ri­ble pub­lic­i­ty on this. Peo­ple are going to say you’re bring­ing our trash to Hol­ly­wood. And I said, “I don’t care.” (qtd. in Corliss and Clarens 48, orig­i­nal emphasis)

That this apoc­ryphal sto­ry has man­aged to stay in cir­cu­la­tion for so long per­haps has to do with its bind­ing of real­ist com­mit­ment and Hol­ly­wood extrav­a­gance to under­cur­rents of pop­u­lar cyn­i­cism that regard Amer­i­can mass cul­ture as detritus—the inescapable irony that garbage is in fact the pri­ma­ry export of both Wash­ing­ton and the Amer­i­can film indus­try. Jenk­ins’ sense is much more prag­mat­ic, and in its own way insight­ful. Garbage is a mat­ter of place­ment: putting paper into a waste­bas­ket is what reclas­si­fies that which is use­ful into waste. Pri­or to that place­ment, such paper com­pris­es the ambi­ent décor of the Post’s work environment.

Fig­ure 2

Indeed it is the mate­r­i­al that Jenk­ins col­lect­ed, com­bined with Pakula’s pen­chant for deep space com­po­si­tion, that sup­ports the high­ly res­o­nant phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal expe­ri­ence of the news­room on screen. Unlike Klute and The Par­al­lax View, Paku­la opt­ed to shoot All the President’s Men in the more con­densed for­mat of 1:85:1, a ges­ture toward the ver­ité feel to which Red­ford aspired. The reduc­tion in the breadth of the frame was com­pen­sat­ed by the depth of the set. Long-shots of the news­room floor are recur­ring images, with both the reced­ing ceil­ing lights and cylin­dri­cal columns pro­vid­ing per­spec­ti­val cues draw­ing our gaze across a var­ie­gat­ed land­scape of desks over­flow­ing with fold­ers, binders, files, ref­er­ence books, loose leaf sheets of var­i­ous col­ors, and all the dif­fer­ent appa­ra­tus­es designed to hold and orga­nize paper clut­ter. The space is fur­ther extend­ed by even­ly sharp, no-con­trast flu­o­res­cent light­ing. When Paku­la vis­it­ed the Post he became entranced by the “ruth­less” light­ing of the space, which he felt cre­at­ed a “world with­out shad­ows.” The direc­tor has made his approach to light and dark clear in a num­ber of inter­views, com­ment­ing about the news­room: “This room with its glar­ing light was the hub of the film and from there we could go out to the dark places with their dark secrets” (Paku­la 775).

As Willis relates, the appli­ca­tion of depth was what made the film both cin­e­mato­graph­i­cal­ly dif­fi­cult and inter­est­ing: “There were times when the back­grounds were just as impor­tant as the fore­grounds. That is to say, the envi­ron­ment could not be lost behind the actors but had to be an inte­gral part of the scene” (Willis 521). Long shots repeat­ed­ly place Wood­ward and Bern­stein at their desks so deep with­in the back­ground that their pres­ence is bare­ly per­cep­ti­ble. This per­sis­tent motif is reflex­ive­ly under­scored late in the film in a scene where Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) angri­ly calls the reporters into his office. A close-up of Bradlee shout­ing “Wood­stein!” is fol­lowed by a reverse angle view of the news­room floor. After a beat, Wood­ward and Bern­stein become vis­i­ble in the right cor­ner of the frame mov­ing toward the cam­era. The cam­era holds its posi­tion as the men make an anx­ious trek from back­ground to fore­ground, re-emerg­ing, as it were, into the sto­ry itself. In this scene and oth­ers, stag­ing and set design threat­en to sub­sume nar­ra­tive, eclips­ing nar­ra­tive move­ment with the undif­fer­en­ti­at­ed dis­play of office activity.

In his com­ments on the visu­al style of the film, Paku­la refers to this alter­nat­ing cur­rent as “coun­ter­point.” The effect is at its most visu­al­ly emphat­ic in shots that exploit deep-set space through the use of split-field diopter lens­es. Increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar with­in New Hol­ly­wood film­mak­ing but now only rarely used, the diopter is a sup­ple­men­tal lens that is placed over a cam­era lens to cre­ate two sep­a­rate focal planes, one near and one far away. The sig­na­ture trace of the device with­in the image is a blurred line where the two focal planes meet, usu­al­ly con­cealed by posi­tion­ing the cam­era so that the dis­tract­ing blur is hid­den by the edges of an object or a neu­tral col­or. As applied in All the President’s Men, the diopter is pri­mar­i­ly used to intro­duce two dis­tinct visu­al fields with­in the news­room, one focused on Woodward’s desk-bound activ­i­ty (the device is pri­mar­i­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Wood­ward rather than Bern­stein) and the oth­er encom­pass­ing the indif­fer­ent bus­tle of the office. In his analy­sis of the diopter aes­thet­ic in New Hol­ly­wood film­mak­ing, Paul Ramaek­er remarks on the iron­ic effect pro­duced by these diver­gent planes of action, not­ing that the facil­i­ty with which the tell­tale trace of the diopter is obscured in the film makes it “eas­i­er to read these images as doc­u­men­taris­tic depic­tions of the process of report­ing, moments cap­tured from the con­stant flux of the news­room (which itself becomes a char­ac­ter)” (Ramaek­er 188). For Ramaek­er, the use of the diopter in All the President’s Men is sig­nif­i­cant because it “goes well beyond the large­ly straight­for­ward func­tion­al­ism typ­i­cal­ly imput­ed to Hol­ly­wood nar­ra­tion, and stands as index­i­cal of far reach­ing ten­den­cies in 1970s Amer­i­can cin­e­ma, its ambi­tions to doc­u­men­tary real­ism, art film expres­siv­i­ty, and autho­r­i­al com­men­tary” (188).

Wood­ward and Bernstein’s thor­ough­ly embed­ded jour­nal­ism, how­ev­er, does have a the­mat­ic func­tion that is nar­ra­tive­ly rel­e­vant. Like all detec­tive sto­ries, All the President’s Men is about the sto­ry­telling process: the raw infor­ma­tion thrown up by a crime scene is orga­nized into a mean­ing­ful sequence that iden­ti­fies, after the fact, a series of caus­es and effects and the agency behind them. For most of the film, Wood­ward and Bern­stein strug­gle to under­stand the syuzhet—the frame that will orga­nize the infor­ma­tion they have gath­ered. As Wood­ward com­plains to Deep Throat (Hal Hal­brook): “All that we’ve got are pieces, we can’t seem to fig­ure out what the puz­zle is sup­posed to look like.” Yet it is pre­cise­ly because the 1976 audi­ence knows the fin­ished puz­zle so well that Paku­la is able to dwell with­in the details—the sto­ry of the film is not Water­gate itself, but rather how the sto­ry of Water­gate came to be told. The over­stuffed, engulf­ing space of the news­room pho­to­graph­i­cal­ly lit­er­al­izes the over­whelm­ing fab­u­la con­front­ed by the reporters as they labour to acquire and iden­ti­fy the cor­rect pieces to the puz­zle in order to find the sto­ry. What Paku­la calls the “nee­dle in the haystack” theme is most often con­veyed in terms of scale, with indi­vid­ual pieces of paper com­pris­ing the story’s mol­e­c­u­lar lev­el (821). Panoram­ic views of the office are matched by close-ups of the var­i­ous note­books, slips, and print­outs through which Wood­ward and Bern­stein con­struct their sto­ry, an oscil­la­tion that is mir­rored in the dual-focal planes of the diopter. At a cru­cial moment when the story’s verac­i­ty is ques­tioned, Bradlee’s deci­sion to back Wood­ward and Bern­stein rather than remove them from the sto­ry is con­veyed in a note that he pass­es to the Post edi­tors that reads: “We stand by our boys.” The pri­or­i­ty giv­en to this writ­ten state­ment extra-dieget­i­cal­ly under­scores the broad­er log­ic of note-tak­ing and doc­u­men­ta­tion in the filmed newsroom—the only way to move a sto­ry about paper for­ward is more paper.

It should be appar­ent at this point that the media-his­tor­i­cal dimen­sions of All the President’s Men lie as much in the film’s detail­ing of jour­nal­is­tic process as in its doc­u­men­ta­tion of the zenith of paper’s dom­i­na­tion of the work­place. As much as we are watch­ing a movie about jour­nal­ism, we are also fol­low­ing the paper trail of Amer­i­can busi­ness life. Tech­nolo­gies of paper repro­duc­tion were also polit­i­cal­ly top­i­cal: just a few years ear­li­er, the New York Times had pub­lished the clas­si­fied doc­u­ments that came to be known as the Pen­ta­gon Papers, which had been covert­ly Xerox­ed by Daniel Ells­berg (also a vic­tim of harass­ment by Nixon’s plumbers).5 Over the course of the fol­low­ing decades the desk­top com­put­er and the ascen­dance of elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit­ted infor­ma­tion would grad­u­al­ly reduce the need for paper-based mes­sag­ing and data stor­age, lay­ing the basis for the vision, if not the actu­al­i­ty, of the paper­less office. Around the time that All the President’s Men was being made, in fact, the con­cept of an office with­out paper had its first stir­rings. In 1975, George Pake, head of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Cen­ter, spoke to Busi­ness Week about the rise of the paper­less office:

Pake says that in 1995 his office will be com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent; there will be a TV-dis­play ter­mi­nal with a key­board sit­ting on his desk. “I’ll be able to call up doc­u­ments from my files on the screen, or by press­ing a but­ton,” he says. “I can get my mail or any mes­sages. I don’t know how much hard copy [print­ed paper] I’ll want in this world.” (“Office of the Future” 48)

How­ev­er, this tran­si­tion occurred in a much slow­er and more uneven fash­ion than Pake and oth­ers pre­dict­ed; the entrance of com­put­ers did not imme­di­ate­ly result in paper’s down­siz­ing (see Sell­en and Harp­er). Fit­ting­ly, films of the 1980s, par­tic­u­lar­ly those set with­in the bur­geon­ing world of finance such as Wall Street (1987), The Secret of My Suc­cess (1987), Work­ing Girl (1988), and Bon­fire of the Van­i­ties (1990), would por­tray desk­top com­put­ers as part­ners in open-plan clut­ter. I would argue, how­ev­er, that what All the President’s Men offers is less the before pic­ture against which to con­trast the paper­less office of the future than a pro­lep­tic view of the hid­den elec­tron­ic con­duits that would come to define office life. That is, what the film makes vis­i­ble are not only the paper data that would become stored in com­put­er mem­o­ry, but also the com­mu­ni­ca­tion flows between peo­ple now hid­den in cables and wire­less transmissions.

The depth of the film’s office set not only engulfs its pro­tag­o­nists in visu­al detail, but also cre­ates a stage for spec­u­lar­i­ty and move­ment. In addi­tion to its verisimil­i­tude, the office set defines both visu­al and phys­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties, as can be seen in what we might call Wood­ward and Bernstein’s “meet cute.” In a series of point-of-view shots, Wood­ward observes Bern­stein non­cha­lant­ly abscond­ing with his recent­ly sub­mit­ted paper drafts back to his own desk. Wood­ward must alter­nate­ly lean for­ward and back­ward in his chair to see around the large col­umn that stands between his desk and Bernstein’s. Even­tu­al­ly, Wood­ward ris­es and walks over to con­front him. After a testy exchange Wood­ward returns and drops fur­ther draft pages on Bernstein’s desk—he agrees that Bernstein’s revi­sions are an improve­ment but ques­tions his ten­den­cy to “hype the facts.” As Wood­ward returns to his desk once again, City Edi­tor Har­ry Rosen­feld (Jack War­den) pass­es on a bisect­ing path between the reporters, bark­ing with­out stop­ping “Wood­ward, Bern­stein, you’re both on the sto­ry, now don’t fuck it up.” Enveloped with­in a visu­al and son­ic land­scape of tele­phones and type­writ­ers, Wood­ward and Bernstein’s short back-and-forth, up-and-down ambu­la­tion estab­lish­es the emer­gent rela­tion between the two reporters, one that tran­si­tions from an adver­sar­i­al shot-reverse-shot into a two-shot fram­ing (this fram­ing to become sus­tained as the trade­mark image of the film).6

Fig­ure 3

Indeed, the unfold­ing of the reporter’s inves­ti­ga­tion is filmi­cal­ly con­ceived in terms of an increas­ing lat­i­tude of move­ment, with the seden­tary labour of phone calls and typ­ing in sta­tion­ary shots giv­ing way to a more and more exu­ber­ant mobile cam­era. As the scope of the sto­ry grows, so too do the reporter’s move­ments become more urgent and exten­sive: “As they [Wood­ward and Bern­stein] get more man­ic,” Paku­la recount­ed, “the cam­era gets more man­ic, so that near the end of the film there is a shot of Dustin when he thinks he’s got­ten con­fir­ma­tion of Halde­man being named as one of the heads of the secret fund. We start­ed at one end of the news­room and we flew (fig­ure 3). One of the best Dis­ney­land rides we’ve ever had was on that dol­ly” (Paku­la 822). In this shot (fig­ure 4), the speed of the dol­ly­ing cam­era blurs the land­scape of paper clut­ter, express­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of tran­scend­ing the mate­r­i­al weight of accu­mu­lat­ed infor­ma­tion and unit­ing the fan­ta­sy of the knowl­edge work­er with the incip­i­ent dreams of dig­i­tal trans­mis­sion and data storage.

Fig­ure 4

The mul­ti­ple ways in which Wood­ward and Bern­stein inhab­it and phys­i­cal­ly nego­ti­ate the news­room in order to build their inves­ti­ga­tion res­onates with the aspi­ra­tions of mid-cen­tu­ry office design. The lay­outs of büroland­schaft and Robert Probst’s Action Office sys­tem were devised to encour­age infor­ma­tion­al exchange and col­lab­o­ra­tion. These flows, visu­al­ized in the con­cep­tu­al draw­ings, were par­tial­ly con­ceived anthro­po­mor­phi­cal­ly, in the path­ways between desks and work­sta­tions. Accord­ing to Prob­st, the prob­lem with the mod­ern work­place had to do with man­ag­ing the "big com­mu­ni­ca­tion acci­dent", the symp­toms of which includ­ed too much infor­ma­tion, redun­dant infor­ma­tion. out-of-date infor­ma­tion. over­spe­cial­ized infor­ma­tion, and low-grade infor­ma­tion (14). Paper was a sig­nif­i­cant part of this prob­lem: “A hard look at com­mu­ni­ca­tion pat­terns tells us that we need restraint, dis­ci­pline and lim­i­ta­tion in the rate in which we are ‘paper­ing’ each oth­er. We already have paper pyra­mid­ing at a cri­sis lev­el in many orga­ni­za­tions” (28). Prob­st declared that the office was “an essen­tial part of a new élan required in infor­ma­tion use” (16). One way of address­ing this prob­lem was through improve­ment to cor­ri­dors of move­ment with­in the open plan. “Rec­og­niz­ing traf­fic action as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion event gives the facil­i­ty man­ag­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for plan­ning its occur­rence to achieve desired effects,” Prob­st writes, “Since motion between areas pro­vides a high­ly ran­dom but inter­ac­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion cir­cum­stance, its design should be care­ful­ly worked out” (16). For Prob­st, as for Paku­la, infor­ma­tion­al traf­fic is anthro­po­mor­phic and social.

All the President’s Men’s dra­matur­gy of bod­ies and paper illu­mi­nates not just the role of human con­veyance, but also the numer­ous machines of paper cir­cu­la­tion, includ­ing the var­i­ous tele­type machines that bring impor­tant updates into the office envi­ron­ment. One week into the film’s pro­duc­tion, pro­duc­er Wal­ter Coblenz sent out a mes­sage to Jenk­ins, Gaines, and pro­duc­tion man­ag­er Dar­rell Hal­len­beck sug­gest­ing that the pro­duc­tion design and set depart­ments begin to exer­cise restraint in their efforts at verisimil­i­tude: “I urge you and all the depart­ments to care­ful­ly review the monies we are spend­ing both on research and the recre­ation of what hap­pened three years ago. Even though our attempt is to be as authen­tic as pos­si­ble, make cer­tain that the monies we are spend­ing show up on the screen” (George Jenk­ins Papers, fold­er 4). Since the set itself had already been built, Coblenz was like­ly refer­ring to the fur­nish­ings and prac­ti­cal objects to which Jenk­ins and Gaines were devot­ing tire­less and exact­ing ener­gy. Sev­er­al scenes, for exam­ple, fea­ture dra­mat­ic busi­ness using ele­va­tor doors. Either labo­ri­ous­ly engi­neered or pur­chased (ele­va­tor-com­pa­ny brochures and draw­ings can be found in the pro­duc­tion files), the Post ele­va­tor in the film smooth­ly opens and clos­es in the man­ner of an actu­al ele­va­tor, rather than the clunki­ly affect­ed man­ner of a mock-elevator—a detail that would have been dis­tract­ing­ly notice­able only in its absence. Anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant­ly large machine pur­chased for the production—perhaps even the tar­get of Coblenz’s caution—was a 44-foot Orda-Flow Doc­u­ment Con­vey­or from Acme Vis­i­ble Records (a com­pa­ny the pro­duc­tion also con­tract­ed for a num­ber of its fil­ing sys­tems), a mul­ti-track con­vey­or that wends its way through a work­place car­ry­ing upright doc­u­ments (a descen­dant, per­haps, of the pneu­mat­ic tube). Though it cost Wild­wood Enter­pris­es $1,831.23, the machine does not appear in the fin­ished film, nor is it vis­i­ble in any of Jenk­ins draw­ings. It remains unclear how or if the Orda-Flow was used,7 but giv­en Pakula’s chore­og­ra­phy of paper and peo­ple it is not dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how the machine would have meshed with his stag­ing (much as a clus­ter of pneu­mat­ic tubes was cen­tral to the depic­tion of the New York Sen­tinel in Lang’s While the City Sleeps). With­in Pakula’s aes­thet­ic of coun­ter­point, fur­nish­ings such as the Orda-Flow are nev­er sole­ly back­ground real­i­ty effects—they deter­mine and height­en the scope of action and demand engage­ment by human agents to make the office move.

The Dark Office

The sequence that intro­duces Deep Throat in All the President’s Men begins with Wood­ward exit­ing a taxi in an extreme long shot, in front of a dark and inscrutable struc­ture, and then descend­ing an exte­ri­or stair­way. The com­po­si­tion of the image inverts con­ven­tion­al approach­es to sig­ni­fy­ing archi­tec­tur­al loca­tions, where­in a vehi­cle is typ­i­cal­ly exit­ed at the front of a build­ing at its base, and where a low angle might for a moment com­pare the ver­ti­cal scales of indi­vid­ual to build­ing. It is dif­fi­cult then, at first, to dis­cern just where Wood­ward is, and what kind of build­ing he’s enter­ing. Cut­ting to the inte­ri­or, Wood­ward emerges out of dark­ness and walks into the fore­ground, the sounds of the soles of his shoes echo­ing loud­ly against con­crete walls and floors as he comes into view and scans his sur­round­ings. A cut to a reverse angle shows even more of the space, cap­tur­ing the pat­tern of con­crete columns, smat­ter­ing of mono­chrome cars, and flu­o­res­cent lights that recede, black­en, and dis­ap­pear in the dis­tance (fig­ure 5). Thus we are intro­duced to the park­ing garage, the newsroom’s haunt­ing dou­ble. Both set­tings are iden­ti­cal in basic shape, deep and reces­sive. Yet the garage is filled in by inky dark­ness rather than paper and office furnishings—a noirish blot at the cen­ter of Redford’s wished-for ver­ité ren­der­ing. Here Paku­la lays out a space not of exces­sive clar­i­ty, but one orga­nized accord­ing to the for­ward-lean­ing anx­ious­ness of the thriller. Yet, even with­in these sin­gu­lar and icon­ic scenes, the under­ly­ing appeal is a com­bi­na­tion of his­tor­i­cal authen­tic­i­ty and white-col­lar familiarity.

Fig­ure 5

The noto­ri­ety of the park­ing garage with­in the canon­i­cal Water­gate narrative—the cul­mi­na­tion of which has been the place­ment of an his­tor­i­cal plaque out­side the garage in Ross­lyn, VA—is owed large­ly to the scenes in the film ver­sion of All the President’s Men. In Wood­ward and Bernstein’s book, the garage is one of a num­ber of sites that Wood­ward meets Deep Throat, and it bare­ly receives any descrip­tion. The idea of build­ing a visu­al inven­to­ry of Water­gate sites—the DNC head­quar­ters, the park­ing garage—likely first occurs in the pages of New York mag­a­zine. Through­out June of 1974 the mag­a­zine ran a “Secret Illus­trat­ed His­to­ry of Water­gate” series, which, with design direc­tor Mil­ton Glaser at the helm, began to sup­ply visu­al aids to a nar­ra­tive that had been most­ly com­prised of names, titles, and insti­tu­tion­al affil­i­a­tions. Julian Allen’s two-page paint­ed illus­tra­tion of Wood­ward wait­ing for Deep Throat in a park­ing garage (fig­ure 6) is includ­ed in Pakula’s “Visu­al Research Mate­ri­als” for All the President’s Men (Paku­la Papers, fold­er 47). As in the film, Allen empha­sizes the garage’s reces­sive con­crete fea­tures, cre­at­ing a noir mise-en-scène with a wor­ried Wood­ward at the center.

Fig­ure 6

While build­ing on Allen’s aes­thet­ic, the film’s park­ing garage scenes are keyed to white col­lar expe­ri­ence, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the way they build a dis­tinct sense of tem­po­ral­i­ty. Woodward’s ini­tial jour­ney to his des­ti­na­tion is cap­tured in an ellip­ti­cal mon­tage of dis­crete scenes—leaving the house, the opera crowd at the Kennedy Cen­ter where he changes taxis—that frag­ment the dura­tion of his jour­ney. Once inside the park­ing garage, time begins to be expressed in more dura­tional con­sec­u­tive moments, each suc­ces­sive moment felt one after the oth­er in longer takes. In essence, Wood­ward com­mutes to his meet­ings with Deep Throat. The anx­ious­ness of the noir-thriller aes­thet­ic here mag­ni­fies that com­mon stretch of time with­in the white-col­lar work­day: the pas­sage from a park­ing spot to the office. An expe­ri­ence of not quite work and not quite free time, sensed with­in the inhos­pitably tran­si­tion­al archi­tec­ture of a park­ing structure.

Like the life of the white-col­lar work­er more gen­er­al­ly, the park­ing garage has been a con­sis­tent­ly sup­pressed fea­ture of post­war urban life, usu­al­ly placed under­ground, on rooftops, or dis­guised with facades. A 1965 study report­ed 73.2 per­cent of down­town park­ing in the Unit­ed States as being used by office build­ings, indi­cat­ing the influ­ence of auto­mo­bile com­muters on the down­town land­scape (Sanders McDon­ald 61). As Mike Davis and oth­ers have shown, rein­vest­ment in down­town cores fre­quent­ly involved designs that aggres­sive­ly divid­ed spaces of con­sump­tion and white-col­lar labour from city streets. John Portman’s build­ings are emblem­at­ic of this moment, with their hid­den street-lev­el entrances and fly­over walk­ways between build­ings, as is the 1980s vogue for sky­walks, which allowed com­muters to pass between park­ing areas and office tow­ers with­out touch­ing the street or mov­ing out­doors. Although many cities fea­ture aes­thet­i­cal­ly appeal­ing garages designed by top-flight archi­tects (Bertrand Goldberg’s Mari­na City com­plex in Chica­go, for exam­ple), the gener­i­cal­ly designed park­ing garage is typ­i­cal­ly a form of ver­nac­u­lar Bru­tal­ism. Con­crete and seem­ing­ly anti-human—or at least anti-social—in the most lit­er­al sense, the alien­at­ing effect of the inte­ri­or space of park­ing struc­tures is ampli­fied by the fact that they are envi­ron­ments that fea­ture few con­ces­sions to the pedes­tri­an traf­fic they func­tion­al­ly produced.

Even though the geo­graph­i­cal dis­tance of the park­ing garage from the offices of the Post is care­ful­ly estab­lished, the sim­i­lar­i­ty in the shape of the spaces points to their much clos­er con­nec­tion with­in the life of the work­er., For the white col­lar work­er, the park­ing garage rep­re­sents an ambigu­ous lim­i­nal space—a place of con­tact with the strange urban out­side that urban design strove to mit­i­gate but in fact dou­bled. Although it is nev­er as ful­ly described as in the film, the park­ing garage as the uncan­ny locale of both pet­ty crime and mon­u­men­tal crim­i­nal dis­clo­sure is iron­i­cal­ly hint­ed at in Bernstein’s nar­ra­tion in the book ver­sion of All the President’s Men:

Bern­stein knew some­thing about bike thieves: the night of the Water­gate indict­ments some­body had stolen his 10-speed Raleigh from a park­ing garage. That was the dif­fer­ence between him and Wood­ward. Wood­ward went into a park­ing garage to find a source who could tell him what Nixon’s men were up to, Bern­stein walked in to find an eight pound chain cut neat­ly in two and his bike gone (Wood­ward and Bern­stein 76).

Just as Jenk­ins under­stood that paper clut­ter was key to estab­lish­ing the over­whelm­ing visu­al pres­ence of the news­room, Paku­la and Willis rec­og­nized that it was the gener­ic nature of the park­ing garage that held the key to the unset­tling aspects of Deep Throat’s role. In the tran­sient spaces of clas­si­cal noir there were always at least bench­es, stools, a bare mat­tress, and a sur­face from which to pour liquor. The lin­ger­ing spaces of the hyper­mod­ern neo-noir, how­ev­er, pro­vide no such ameni­ties, a pre­mo­ni­tion of the neolib­er­al aus­ter­i­ty that would rede­fine the spaces of employ­ment in the com­ing decades.


The spheres of white-col­lar labour that All the President’s Men describes and explores con­tin­ue to be sites of utopi­an invest­ment cir­cum­scribed by coun­ter­vail­ing eco­nom­ic forces. With­out ever seek­ing to change the rela­tions of pro­duc­tion, the dream of tai­lor­ing the office to the needs of knowl­edge work­ers quick­ly met dead ends, the ping-pong tables and climb­ing walls of Google and the ver­dant cam­pus­es of an ascen­dant tech­nol­o­gy sec­tor notwith­stand­ing. The mod­u­lar flex­i­bil­i­ty of the office sys­tems designed by Robert Prob­st in fact meshed per­fect­ly with the muta­bil­i­ty of post-Fordist labour. The many knock-offs of Robert Probst’s designs empha­sized fun­gi­bil­i­ty rather than infor­ma­tion­al flow. Homo­gene­ity instead of vari­a­tion became the rule of what has become known as the “cubi­cle farm.” Fur­ther­more, because the types of office fur­ni­ture Prob­st pio­neered were detach­able from the struc­ture of the build­ing itself, they could eas­i­ly be moved when a com­pa­ny need­ed to down­size its oper­a­tions or move over­seas. Today, cubi­cle sys­tems are typ­i­cal­ly leased rather than pur­chased, enabling com­pa­nies the ease of installing or strik­ing white-col­lar shops overnight. In this way, the pre­car­i­ous tem­po­ral­i­ty of mod­ern labour is expressed in the very mate­r­i­al sur­faces in and through which this labour is performed.

Like many of the design­ers who first attempt­ed to build ded­i­cat­ed spaces for knowl­edge work, how­ev­er, Pakula’s engage­ment with the work­place was imag­i­na­tive and phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal, a labour of rep­re­sen­ta­tion intend­ed to give visu­al pres­ence to a work expe­ri­ence that remained unseen. In the gleam­ing offices of the Post, Paku­la saw a form of white-col­lar work that both embed­ded itself with­in and trans­formed its mate­ri­als. To ren­der and con­tain this ener­gy on film Paku­la assem­bled a team of office design­ers (Willis, Jenk­ins, Gaines) and office work­ers (Hoff­man, Robards, War­den) to build a space to express the pro­duc­tion of knowl­edge: a romance of cru­sad­ing jour­nal­ism to be sure, but also, more glob­al­ly, a romance of paper work and office life.

It is per­haps not dif­fi­cult to trace the fate of the knowl­edge work­er in the years that fol­lowed. As the lib­er­al com­pact between cap­i­tal and labour unrav­eled through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, so too did employ­ment become more pre­car­i­ous. In turn, the places that labour is con­duct­ed shift­ed. From the mod­ern com­pa­ny to the gig econ­o­my, an office today may mean an air­port lounge, a Star­bucks, a leased car, or one’s bed­room. Between out­sourced labour con­tracts and shared co-work­ing spaces such as WeWork, even tra­di­tion­al office envi­ron­ments no longer sus­tain the rel­a­tive con­stan­cy on which embod­ied attach­ments might form. In this sense, the office has become as tran­si­tion­al-seem­ing as the park­ing garage. Con­verse­ly, in the sleep­less 24/7 econ­o­my of the tech and start­up sec­tor, sur­plus labour is extend­ed by fill­ing the office with social events and ameni­ties geared to ensur­ing that work­ers nev­er leave (see Crary). The office in this sense ful­fills not just a sub­sti­tute for home, but the dis­trac­tive role once played by spaces of urban entertainment—spaces, iron­i­cal­ly, that in The Salaried Mass­es Kra­cauer deter­mined as con­joined to the emer­gence of white-col­lar work. How­ev­er, as the offices of the present become more dis­persed, so too does a delim­it­ed ter­rain on which a par­tic­u­lar form of labour was both inter­pel­lat­ed and con­test­ed recede from per­cep­tion and rep­re­sen­ta­tion.8

Exca­vat­ing the exu­ber­ant rep­re­sen­ta­tion of office space in All the President’s Men may appear to be a lap­sar­i­an exer­cise root­ed in nos­tal­gia for the reas­sur­ing solid­i­ty of a mid­dle-class workweek—but not if one con­sid­ers the fact that the film’s appeal was, from the start, based in a real­is­ti­cal­ly detailed utopi­an descrip­tion of what office life could be, not what it was. Describ­ing his research for the film, Paku­la recalled, “I went to the Wash­ing­ton Post and spent months at Bob Woodward’s desk. He was upstairs doing The Final Days with Carl Bern­stein. I had Bob Woodward’s desk in the news­room and I had my own Wal­ter Mit­ty fan­ta­sy. I was a reporter for the Wash­ing­ton Post. I would attend all the meet­ings. It was mar­velous” (Paku­la 774). Iron­i­cal­ly, the space of adven­ture that Paku­la envi­sioned from Woodward’s desk is in its basic shape and mate­r­i­al form not much dif­fer­ent from the mun­dane mid­dle-class set­ting from which Mit­ty seeks escape. Paku­la and his tech­ni­cians under­stood that using film to recount Wood­ward and Bernstein’s efforts meant ani­mat­ing bod­ies with­in the space of the office with­out ever los­ing it as a deter­min­ing envi­ron­ment. Fold­ing fan­ta­sy into the work­place instead of negat­ing it as a space of the imag­i­na­tion, All the President’s Men brings into vis­i­bil­i­ty the office that those who work still wait for daily.

Works Cited

Alan J. Paku­la Papers, Mar­garet Her­rick Library, Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences.

Bell, Daniel. The Com­ing of Post-Indus­tri­al Soci­ety. Basic Books, 1973.

Corliss, Mary and Car­los Clarens. “Designed for Film: The Hol­ly­wood Art Direc­tor.” Film Com­ment, vol. 14, no. 3, May/June 1978, pp 27-58.

Crary, Jonathan. 24/7: Late Cap­i­tal­ism and the Ends of Sleep. Ver­so, 2013.

Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Exca­vat­ing the Future in Los Ange­les. Ver­so, 1990.

Dimend­berg, Edward. Film Noir and the Spaces of Moder­ni­ty. Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2004.

Druck­er, Peter. The Age of Dis­con­ti­nu­ity: Guide­lines to Our Chang­ing Soci­ety. Harp­er & Row, 1969.

George Jenk­ins Papers, Mar­garet Her­rick Library, Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences.

Gitel­man, Lisa. Paper Knowl­edge: Toward a Media His­to­ry of Doc­u­ments. Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2014.

Heller, Steven. The Graph­ic Design Read­er. All­worth Press, 2002.

---. “Julian Allen’s Five Lega­cies.” Julian Allen: A Ret­ro­spec­tive, Muse­um of Amer­i­can Illus­tra­tion at the Soci­ety of Illus­tra­tors, Mary­land Insti­tute Col­lege of Art, 2006, p. 5.

Kra­cauer, Siegfried. The Salaried Mass­es: Duty and Dis­trac­tion in Weimar Ger­many. Trans­lat­ed by Quentin Hoare, Ver­so, 1998.

---.“Why France Loved Our Films.” Siegfried Kracauer’s Amer­i­can Writ­ings: Essays on Film and Pop­u­lar Cul­ture, edit­ed by Johannes Von Moltke and Kristy Raw­son, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press, 2012, pp. 33-40.

Machlup, Fritz. The Pro­duc­tion and Dis­tri­b­u­tion of Knowl­edge in the Unit­ed States. Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1962.

Office of the Future.” Busi­ness Week, 30 June 1975, 48-53, 56.

Paku­la, Alan. “Mak­ing a Film About Two Reporters,” Amer­i­can Cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er, 57,7, July 1976, 774-75, 819-23. .

Prob­st. Robert. The Office: A Facil­i­ty Based on Change. Busi­ness Press, 1968.

Press, Alex. “Code Red: Orga­niz­ing the Tech Sec­tor.” N+1, issue 31, Spring 2018, pp. 14-22.

Ramaek­er, Paul. “Notes on the Split Field Diopter.” Film His­to­ry: An Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 179-198.

Sanders McDon­ald, Shan­non. The Park­ing Garage: Design and Evo­lu­tion of a Mod­ern Urban Form. Urban Land Insti­tute, 2007.

Saval, Nikil. Cubed: A Secret His­to­ry of the Work­place. Knopf Dou­ble­day, 2014.

Schleier, Mer­rill. Sky­scraper Cin­e­ma: Archi­tec­ture and Gen­der in Amer­i­can Film. Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2009.

Sell­en, Abi­gail J. and Richard H.R. Harp­er. The Myth of the Paper­less Office. MIT Press, 2002.

Sen­nett, Richard. The Fall of Pub­lic Man. W.W. Nor­ton, 2017.

Sobchack, Vivian. “Lounge Time: Post­war Crises and the Chrono­tope of Film Noir.” Refig­ur­ing Amer­i­can Film Gen­res, edit­ed by Nick Browne, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press, 1998, pp. 129-170.

Thomp­son, Richard. “Mr. Paku­la Goes to Wash­ing­ton.” Film Com­ment vol. 12, no. 5, 1976, pp. 12-19.

Touraine, Alan. The Post-Indus­tri­al Soci­ety, Tomorrow’s Social His­to­ry: Class­es, Con­flicts, and Cul­ture in the Pro­grammed Soci­ety. Trans­lat­ed by Leonard F.X. May­hew, Ran­dom House, 1971.

Willis, “Pho­tograph­ing ‘All the President’s Men.’” Amer­i­can Cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er, vol. 57, no. 5, May 1976, 520-521, 548.

Wood­ward, Bob and Carl Bern­stein. All the President’s Men. Simon & Schus­ter, 1974.

Zyn­da, Thomas H. “The Hol­ly­wood Ver­sion: Movie Por­tray­als of the Press.” Jour­nal­ism His­to­ry, vol. 6, no. 1, Spring 1979, pp. 16-25, 32.

Image Notes

Fig­ure 1. Büroland­schaft floor plan for GEG-Ver­stand, design by Quickborner

Fig­ure 2. The Post news­room set for All the President’s Men.

Fig­ure 3. A track­ing shot fol­lows Bern­stein (Dustin Hoff­man) across the news­room floor.

Fig­ure 4. Dol­ly track on the news­room set (from Amer­i­can Cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er).

Fig­ure 5. The meet­ing place of Deep Throat (Hal­brook) and Wood­ward (Red­ford), filmed near Cen­tu­ry City, California

Fig­ure 6. Julien Allen paint­ing for New York magazine’s “Illus­trat­ed Secret His­to­ry of Water­gate,” June 24, 1974.


1 Despite a pro­cliv­i­ty for locat­ing alien­ation with­in the every­day spaces of moder­ni­ty, mid-cen­tu­ry film noir rarely vis­it­ed con­tem­po­rary work­places for very long (a sig­nal excep­tion being The Big Clock [1948]), focus­ing instead on bars and night­clubs where leisure is, as Vivian Sobchack writes, “tem­po­r­al­ized neg­a­tive­ly as idle rest­less­ness, as a lack of occu­pa­tion, as a dis­turb­ing, ambigu­ous, and pub­lic dis­play of unem­ploy­ment” (158).

2 Kra­cauer, of course, had already elab­o­rat­ed his ideas on the cul­ture and expe­ri­ence of white-col­lar mid­dle class­es in pre-war Berlin in The Salaried Mass­es, first pub­lished in 1930.

3 The inte­ri­or scale of mid-cen­tu­ry busi­ness com­put­ing sys­tems is depict­ed in Desk Set, as well as in more recent pop­u­lar cul­ture such as the Mad Men episode “The Mono­lith” (2014).

4 Jenk­ins’ papers con­tain a lay­out of the Post news­room with names and phone exten­sions for 161 desks as well as a desk plan for the Post set that con­tains 162 desks.

5 For a media his­to­ry of the pho­to­copy, includ­ing a dis­cus­sion of Ells­berg and the Pen­ta­gon Papers, see Gitel­man, par­tic­u­lar­ly Chap­ter 3: “Xero­g­ra­phers of the Mind,” 83-110.

6 The film large­ly ignores the office-based gen­der pol­i­tics of the era. Wood­ward and Bernstein’s request that a fel­low reporter, Kay Eddy (Lind­say Crouse), reac­quaint her­self with a for­mer lover with­in the Repub­li­can par­ty to pro­cure infor­ma­tion for them isn’t acknowl­edged as sex­ist in nature (save Eddy’s dis­be­lief at even being asked). The mere pos­si­bil­i­ty that such a request could be made, how­ev­er, accu­rate­ly reflects the work­place as a fraught sex­u­al field. Katharine Gra­ham, the own­er of The Post, request­ed not to be depict­ed as an onscreen char­ac­ter in the film. As shown in Spielberg’s The Post, Gra­ham was an instru­men­tal fig­ure in the unfold­ing inves­ti­ga­tion (as she had been with the release of The Pen­ta­gon Papers) and her pres­ence with­in the film may have at least under­cut the per­va­sive male­ness of the newsroom.

7 Jenk­ins acquired lay­outs for the Post Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Cen­ter, a room sep­a­rate from the news­room floor where many of the tele­type machines were housed. This is per­haps where this machine would have been fea­tured at the Post itself (let­ter from Michael F. Parks, fold­er 38).

8 This is not to say that oppor­tu­ni­ties for orga­ni­za­tion and class strug­gle also recede. A recent report on tech-indus­try labour orga­niz­ing details coali­tions between white-col­lar engi­neers and coders and blue-col­lar cus­to­di­al and secu­ri­ty staff, and the ways that labour orga­niz­ers have mobi­lized cod­ing knowl­edge and elec­tron­ic plat­forms (see Press).