I’ve been told relentlessly that The Wire is the best show that has been on TV in years. Aside from Slate magazine, I got that message no less than a dozen times from friend and journalist Chris Reber.
I watched the first episode for the first time yesterday and, instead, got caught up in reading about the background from creator and writer David Simon, a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun. He wrote a fascinating piece in a February issue of Esquire, focusing on his time and learning with the Sun – whose then editor, Bill Marrimow, now leads the ship at the Inquirer – to whom I recently offered advice.
Naturally, I read with great interest into his own experiences with newspapers and found similar feelings.
For me, the religion was in the chase, the pursuit of accumulated fact and quote, the rush to deadline, and the arrogance of standing up like the village griot at the campfire and running down a story that hadn’t yet been heard. And then the next day, maybe, doing it again.
This from the second page:
I spent the fifth year of college pulling more than a hundred bylines in The Sun. They hired me to fill in for a reporter on leave, and when that reporter returned, Luxenberg gave me a permanent position. At twenty-three, I was the youngest reporter on staff, covering ghetto murders, drug raids, and four-car fatals. And while The Baltimore Sun might not be the greatest name in major dailies, it was a solid, serious enterprise, a second-tier paper with a national presence. It was carrying seven foreign bureaus, a twelve-reporter Washington bureau, a national desk with its own general-assignment staff. And here was the thing in 1983: The Sun was going to get better. Most all of America’s newspapers were going to improve, except maybe for those afternoon editions already being butchered on the altar of television news. There was some consolidation still to come, a shaking out of the weaker rags in multipaper markets, but on the whole, the big market dailies were monopolies, providing the only serious, consistent coverage of their cities.
That’s what concerns me, what do I want to do with newspapers now?