Just one more thing. This is hilarious … well, at least to journalists it is. To outsiders, it’s probably the equivalent of taxidermists guffawing over someone using the wrong type of agates in Grampa Palin’s stuffed moose. To us ink-stained wretches, the recent listing of “Drinking” at No. 10 was both funny and somewhat sad.
You can tell a
journalistâ€™s bar by names such as Trail Dust, Cell House 7 and Top Hat Lounge.
Such dingy hole in the wall watering holes will typically have two beers on
tap, PBR and Budweiser, and a well of cheap liquor.
Here journalists gather
to complain about the death of their industry and how much they miss the good
olâ€™ days. Most of the time such bars are a stoneâ€™s throw from the newsroom so
weary journalists wonâ€™t have to stumble too far to wet their dry palletâ€™s.
A good beer and a shot
is just the medicine for any spent journalist who survived another treacherous
day in the trenches reporting the truth. To report the news is to be a
journalist. Same goes for drinking. Drinking is so much a part of a
journalist’s life that J-schools nearly made it part of the curriculum but
instead choose copy editing. And journalism has suffered ever
We useta drink Blue Margaritas at Yank’s on Tuesday nights, racking up the expense accounts & telling lies. It turned out that this was pretty much the highlight of the week … well, at least it was when I was in town, working on the depressing celebrity-gone-wrong stories.
And yeah, I did love The Wire. It’s brilliant. See below.
Here’s Wire Producer David Simon talking about the reaction to Season 5, which was about journalism, and how the press was consistently missing the story, falling down on the job, and not reporting on what was really important. There is much, much more to this interview, and it’s one of the most bare-knuckle assessments of the profession that I’ve ever seen. Read it.
Part of the critique of journalism in Season 5 was that instead of
examining the real â€œwhyâ€ of issues, and really analyzing what our
problems are and how to address them, journalism had reduced its
ambitions to something much smaller, and much more onanisticâ€”a prize
culture that rewards â€œgotchaâ€ and quote-unquote â€œimpactâ€ journalism,
and shaping shit to win a prize. I saw an awful lot of that in
journalism. It was one of the destructive forces in play.
My feeling is, thereâ€™s a lot in Season 5 thatâ€™s a love letter to
journalism. This is not people who hate newspapers, or are angry at
their alma mater. Iâ€™m angry at what happened to my alma mater. I love
the Baltimore Sun. I grew up there. So did Bill Zorzi. The only thing I
was conscious of was that the mythology of pure victimhood is ripe in
journalism at this time. I was very conscious that somewhere, about
halfway through the run, a lot of journalistsâ€”not rank-and-file
journalists, not a lot of people whoâ€™re in the trenches, but a lot of
powers that be, pundits, managing editors and publishers and columnists
who havenâ€™t seen the pavement in yearsâ€”a lot of them were gonna be
wailing like cats with their tails on fire.
But ultimately, until journalism re-embraces
its higher ambitions, something a lot higher than grubbing a Pulitzer
or dancing around with stuff they regard as â€œimpactâ€ stories, until it
starts realizing that it mattered when it chose to explain the world in
an increasingly sophisticated and subtle wayâ€¦
When I was in
journalism school, they told us that newspapers were going to become
more like magazines, and magazines were going to become like fucking
books. Everything was going to get smarter. And when the money was
there to make it smarter, it got stupid. And then the real poverty
landed, and newspapers were in no position to charge for their product,
because their product was inferior. And now itâ€™s a horror show. What we
were describing is the exact equivalent of Detroit in the 70s. Hey, we
have a monopoly. What the fuckâ€”letâ€™s make Gremlins and Pacers and Chevy
Vegas. And then all of a sudden you donâ€™t have a monopoly, and youâ€™re
standing there on the lot going, â€œHeyâ€”buy my Vega.â€ And thatâ€™s what
happened with journalism. You saw them manufacturing Chevy Vegas, and
then you saw the monopoly ending. And you saw the panic in the
newsroom. And those who only wanted to believe that they were still
putting out Thunderbirds, and that all was fine, and that it was all
heroic in the â€˜80s and â€˜90sâ€”they were greatly offended by The Wire. But theyâ€™re also full of shit.
there was a problem with the message. Journalists did not want to hear
that they were at all complicit, as an industry, in their own demise.
But it was something we felt the need to say. And, by the way, I say
â€œthey,â€ but the truth is I got 600 emails from people at newspapers, in
the trenches, who were like, â€œThis is my fucking life every day.â€ Itâ€™s
been the same dynamic all along. If you go to the Baltimore police
department, all of the beat cops and detectives are like, â€œI fucking
love the show. This is my fucking life. You got it. You got it.â€ But
then, if you go up to major and above, you hear, â€œWell, actually, weâ€™re
a lot more functional than you give us credit for. Weâ€™ve actually made
some improvements in how weâ€™re approaching drug enforcement.â€ Same
thing in the school system. You get above the rank of assistant
principal, and itâ€™s all about, â€œHey, the test scores are going up.
Weâ€™ve got a handle on this thing now. No Child Left Behind is working.â€
The same thing happened in journalism. But journalismâ€”they vent
outward, rather than inward.
To anyone from GQ, if this amount of excerpting seems excessive, drop me a note, or a cease-and-desist, and I’ll yank it. But dammit, this is good stuff, and I want to put a bunch of it up here so’s people go to your site and read the rest of it.