Dave Simon tears into Old and New Journalism


On The Media, one of my favorite radio shows and podcasts, frequently documents the current decline in the quality and coverage of news in the United States, which has of course, coincided with the one-two punch of the rise of the free-information demand economy of the Internet, and the shameful domination of news media by corporations who require that their news outfits behave like little corporate fiefdoms themselves, focused entirely on consumer demographics, sales, and money.

Sorry for the long sentence, but the state of things is equally ridiculous. This week, the completely wonderful Brooke Gladstone edited in the most interesting bits of a senate committee on the “Future of Journalism.”

Dave Simon, journalist, author of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and perhaps most famously known as the co-creator of the only honest police procedural ever, The Wire, tore into the pretense of things with the calm but damning precision he’s brought to his near-documentary television series:

“From the captains of the newspaper industry you may hear a certain martyrology, a claim that they were heroically serving democracy, only to be undone by a cataclysmic shift in technology.

“From those speaking on behalf of new media, Web blogs and that which goes Twitter, you will be treated to assurances that American journalism has a perfectly fine future online and that a great democratization is taking place. Well, a plague on both their houses.”


High end journalism is dying in America, and unless a new economic model is achieved it will not be reborn on the Web, or anywhere else. The Internet is a marvelous tool, and clearly it is the information delivery system of our future. But thus far it does not deliver much first generation reporting. Instead, it leeches that reporting from mainstream news publications whereupon aggregating websites and bloggers contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth.” (emphasis mine. a sense of irony also mine.)

He even rips a little into Ariana Huffington, which is worthy alone of listening, regardless of which wing, if any, you admit to leaning towards.

Read or listen to this segment on OnTheMedia.org. And support the program or your local NPR/PBS/PRI affiliate if you can.

Endnote: Dave Simon also recently appeared on Bill Moyers Journal, in an hour long interview certainly worth watching as well. Seek it out here. I’m still waiting for them to publish their showing of Sam Waterston performing impressions of Abraham Lincoln on the Internet as well.