Sunday, June 21, 2009

Newspapers and book and TV shows

I just watched the first three episodes of The Wire on DVD. Channel-impaired, we don't get HBO, so this one came from Netflix. The big cheese of production is a guy named David Simon. He wrote a book named Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, a great piece of extended journalism that was also made into a TV series, Homicide, back in the 90s. It was an engaging show that made you believe that was how cops did business, allowing for the exigencies of drama. Simon knows this stuff because he was a cop reporter for a long time on the Baltimore paper. A few weeks ago I saw him on the Bill Moyers Friday evening show on PBS. Simon said that he had taken a buyout from the paper in the first wave of newsroom reductions back in the early 90s. At the time, he said, the profit margin at the paper was running at 38%. In other words, long before the Internet began eating up newspaper circulation, the grasping bastards that own the papers were throwing good people over the side – or bribing them to jump – even while the publications were minting money.

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