Monday, March 2, 2009


David Simon, the executive producer and a writer for the greatest television show ever, had an op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post. And though it addresses a rare occurrence in these parts (a police shooting), it also tackles the negative effects an atrophied or non-existent news-gathering staff has on cities:
There is a lot of talk nowadays about what will
replace the dinosaur that is the daily newspaper. So-called citizen journalists
and bloggers and media pundits have lined up to tell us that newspapers are
dying but that the news business will endure, that this moment is less tragic
than it is transformational. Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger
trying to find out McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any
citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials
inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there
wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of
the spin or omission. I didn't trip over a herd of hungry Sun reporters either,
but that's the point. In an American city, a police officer with the authority
to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim
that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate
against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in
town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to
challenge any of it.
And for the truly masochistic, I recommend Paul Starr's recent essay "Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)."

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Links to PPH and AJ subscription pages.

Related: Department of Navel-Gazing: Or, Why You Should Subscribe to Your Local Newspaper

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