Sunday, March 23, 2008

Simon's final shots

From David Simon's Huffington Post article last week, a good description of the fate of the modern mid-size daily and its consequences in most American cities:
Amid buyout after buyout, the [real] Baltimore Sun conceded much of its institutional memory, its beat structure, its ability to penetrate municipal institutions and report qualitatively on substantive issues in a way that explains not just the symptomatic problems of the city, but the root causes of those problems... But absent that kind of reporting, we will all soon enough live in cities and towns where politicians and bureaucrats gambol freely without worry, where it is never a risk to shine shit and call it gold. A good newspaper covers its city and acquires not just the quantitative account of a day's events, but the qualitative truth and meaning behind those events. A great newspaper does this routinely on a multitude of issues, across its entire region.
It's too bad, though, that Simon can't help but be all McNulty about the whole thing and pick fights with anyone who doesn't see things his way. ("I confess I thought that journalism was still self-aware enough to get it, that enough collective consciousness of the craft's highest calling remained, that reporters still worried about what their newspapers were missing.") Though I agree with him in spirit -- way too much of the press on this season was about production elements rather than sociopolitical themes -- his obsessive pugilism has started to get on me. He himself says "show don't tell is the rule," but then submits an article telling his critics how dense they are for not getting it. He should let his work speak for itself.

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