Since one of my jobs involves preparing young men and women for the world of professional journalism, the collapse of newspapers interests me. No question: it doesn’t look good for print. Unless advertisers heavily reinvest in print journalism, newspapers will go the way of the telegraph. Online journalism, however, is healthier than ever. If only ad/PR firms would start gearing their operations towards the growing segments of their readership base who depend on their computers for news, any news. The only people I know who still buy or subscribe to newspapers – the ones who fetishize the Sunday morning ritual of, to quote Wallace Stevens, late coffee, oranges, and sunny chairs – are those who work in newspapers.
Anyway, as a recent convert to “The Wire,” I was disappointed by how facile creator David Simon’s insights into the business were. It’s as if the unconcealed contempt that give Simon interviews their pungent kick finally crimped his art; he moralized instead of delineated. He’s too close to the material: at least when he’s dealing with the world of corners, the re-up game, public schools, and the Neapolitan intrigue of the Baltimore police force he can rely on imagination to support the facts. The Atlantic Monthly‘s Ross Douthat agrees – “a score-settling retread of Shattered Glass,” he writes. More:
At a moment of maximum crisis for American newspapers, with daily paper after daily paper collapsing into mediocrity under the pressure of collapsing revenues, David Simon decided to use his HBO soapbox to rail against … the newspaper industry’s obsession with Pulitzer-bait stories. It’s the equivalent of doing an entire season about the plight of the American inner city in which the drug war was a presence, but way in the background, and the story focused primarily on the evils of, I don’t know, check-cashing services or something.