A Wire runs through it

The HBO drama is spot-on in diagnosing newspapers’ woes
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  January 23, 2008

OK, here’s the scenario: Local ownership sells off a mid-market, well-respected and Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper to a huge media conglomerate in a major American city. But as readership drops and advertising falls, the media giant offers buyouts to long-time employees at its new acquisition, so they can be replaced in part by a lesser number of newer, less experienced, less-costly reporters. Quality, the amount of real news coverage, and institutional memory naturally suffer, as do morale. Sound familiar?
Yep, this is one of the dramatic focal points of the current season of The Wire, the highly acclaimed HBO series heavily grounded in the reality of urban dynamics in Baltimore.
Oh, you thought it was here in Providence, and that the newspaper in question was the Providence Journal? Well, boys and girls, that is right on as well, but with no need for artistic license.
The Sun, the semi-fictional Baltimore paper (as presented in the show), lent its name to the program, and the execs there must be thinking better of that by now. Owned by the Tribune Company, with its flagship Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times also in its fold, the real-world Sun is living out The Wire’s script.
And as readers of the Cool, Cool World and the Prov Phoenix know only too well (since the Urinal will not report the news of its own cutting back), the Other Paper could have easily been the model.
Post-script: The top editor of the LA Times just got cashiered for failing to carry out Tribune’s edict for making newsroom budget cuts. The New York Times reports that this is “the fourth time in less than three years the highest-ranking editor or the publisher has left for that reason.”

Taking Billary seriously — not
Bill Clinton, as we all know, is a congenital liar, along with his truth-challenged wife, Hillary, and neither should ever be taken at face value when they speak. “I was against the Iraq War.” (A twin triumph in prevarication, that one.) “I didn’t inhale.” “I never had sex with that woman.” “I did nothing wrong with Whitewater.”
So take it with a salt lick when Bubba starts wrongly impugning Barack Obama’s record and his hopes for America. As Don Imus allowed recently on his radio show, there is nothing to which Billary won’t stoop to get elected, including poisoning a municipal water supply.
But while some (including many high-level Democrats in Rhode Island) still pine for the former president, let’s just ask a simple question about the man now doing his wife’s dirty work: “Would you invite to dinner a man who used his station to get BJs in his office from a young female employee — who was not far from the age of his daughter — and who, in addition, stuck a cigar in her nether regions?” Sure, sit down and dig in. You can take the place next to our Mary, who is going to college now. Right.
Stay above the fray, Big O. All this shall pass.

Super... er, Sunnis?
Alert reader Joe Hutnak points out dueling headlines from the New York Times of January 14, indicating that news about the high-flying N.E. Patriots is as worthy of scrutiny as the current situation in Iraq.

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