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The Wire’s final season

I have yet to see a single full episode of The Wire – a critically-acclaimed cable TV show out of the US that chronicled Baltimore’s seedy drug subculture and ended its five season run with a long story arc set in a fictional Baltimore newsroom – but after reading this blog post by exec producer David Simon I want to watch the whole darn thing.
In the post Simon rips US journalists who loved or hated the show and wrote about it extensively, for failing to note the key point of the season – the paper sucked. It was no longer doing it’s job.

Here’s what happened in season five of The Wire when almost no one — among the working press, at least — was looking:Our newspaper missed every major story. …..
Amid buyout after buyout, the 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.

Simon – a journalist with 13 years at the Baltimore Sun under his belt (plus several books) – launches into a biting critique of modern daily journalism that is also a stirring call to arms about what this profession could and should be.
And he warns about the cost of our failures to live up to his ideas about what a great regional or city newspaper should do…

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.

Read the post, even if you don’t rent the series on DVD as I’m feeling compelled to do. It might just renew your understanding of what a great regional or city paper can do.

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