In the NYT's Opinionator blog, Eric Etheridge responds to David Simon:
Yesterday Senator John Kerry held hearings on the “Future of Journalism.” One expert who took the chair to testify was David Simon, the former Baltimore City Sun reporter who later created the HBO series “The Wire.”
Simon stressed that he was not there to make a “Luddite argument against the Internet and all that it offers.” What did concern him was the disappearance of a certain kind of reporting he says bloggers don’t do:
But democratized and independent though they may be, you do not — in my city — run into bloggers or so-called citizen journalists at City Hall, or in the courthouse hallways or at the bars and union halls where police officers gather. You do not see them consistently nurturing and then pressing sources. You do not see them holding institutions accountable on a daily basis.
Why? Because high-end journalism – that which acquires essential information about our government and society in the first place — is a profession; it requires daily, full-time commitment by trained men and women who return to the same beats day in and day out until the best of them know everything with which a given institution is contending. For a relatively brief period in American history – no more than the last fifty years or so – a lot of smart and talented people were paid a living wage and benefits to challenge the unrestrained authority of our institutions and to hold those institutions to task. Modern newspaper reporting was the hardest and in some ways most gratifying job I ever had. I am offended to think that anyone, anywhere believes American institutions as insulated, self-preserving and self-justifying as police departments, school systems, legislatures and chief executives can be held to gathered facts by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training, or for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care to whom it is they are lying or from whom they are withholding information.
Or as he also put it, “The day I run into a Huffington Post reporter at a Baltimore zoning board hearing is the day I will no longer be worried about journalism.”