Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Media Angle

Columbia Journalism Review has a great/expansive article on David Simon and The Wire. Some have criticized the current season for its portrayal of the media and particularly the portrayal of Baltimore Sun Executive Editor, "James Whiting" and Managing Editor, "Thomas Klebanow." These characters are virtual stand ins for the actual Sun editors during Simon's time, John Carroll and Bill Marimow. Carroll recently tried to fight layoffs at the LA Times and resigned himself. In an open email of sorts (couldn't find the link to it that I read a couple days ago), he shows himself to far from the corporate stooge Simon writes him as. Simon's criticisms of the bottom line ruining journalism is echoed by Carroll. The journalism community also holds Marimow in high regard. The main disagreement between them seems to be one of journalistic style. Marimow and Carroll have written some of their most successful stories on individual phenomena, which brought real substantive changes, issues "you could take a bite out of." Simon's most powerful work, like Homicide or The Corner paints in much broader strokes, or according to Simon “problems and people portrayed in all of their complexity and contrariness.”

Its a little disappointing that Simon's normally ambiguous writing has made such good-bad/right-wrong characters in the newsroom, but I don't want to pass judgement yet. Indeed, I think he had to go to the Sun in this season, and it certainly fits into his model of institutionalization and bureaucracy (hint: it's bad). And maybe the characters will achieve more complexity in the coming episodes. Maybe Scott Templeton will grow some conscience. Maybe Gus will be a little more evil. Maybe the editors will start doing more with more. Maybe the newsroom subplot won't turn into Simon settling a grudge with his bosses from ten years ago. Ok, probably not.

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