David Simon, auteur of the hit HBO series "The Wire," excoriates the newspaper industry again in Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section with an essay, "Does the News Matter To Anyone Anymore?” I would answer that it has been a long time since it did, if ever.
When the Washington Star folded in 1983, I recall a “man-on-the-street” sidebar asking people what they would miss most. Was it the reporting of Maureen Dowd, the editorial cartoons of Berryman, the local columnist "The Rambler, the political columns of Mary McGrory? No, the answer pretty much was people would miss the department store ads!
At the time, I was a reporter for UPI, a privately held wire service that went bankrupt because newspaper editors would not pay the cost of competitive newsgathering, opting instead for the AP, a nonprofit cooperative owned by its users.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the news plops on your doorstep, arrives on your rooftop or through underground wires; it still must be reported with high standards of accuracy and meaning.
Ironically, the Web portals, blogosphere and cable news outlets are now boasting of a new model by which they can deliver news instantly and around the clock in text, picture and sound – by God, just like the wire services used to!
The wheel has been reinvented, and the caravan moves on.