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Monday, January 21, 2008

TV: The Wire -- Life Imitates Art

How weird was it to watch the scene on HBO's The Wire in which the fictional editor of the Baltimore Sun announces newsroom cuts, starting with the foreign bureaus but encompassing jobs in the main newsroom as well? Sunday, James O'Shea, Los Angeles Times editor, was forced out for resisting newsroom cuts that would have started with the foreign bureaus but also encompassed local jobs as well. The Los Angeles Times is owned by The Tribune Company, or "Chicago" as they are simply known on The Wire, the same company that owns the real-life Baltimore Sun.

Much has been made about the pros and cons of the newspaper subplot in this season of the show, especially in how it relates to creator and head writer David Simon's own soured experience at the Sun. Last night's episode may not have been perfect but it sure was timely.

What is the role of the modern newspaper? Is the death of the newspaper as we have known it part of the overall decline of cities like Baltimore, or a natural withering of a grapevine that has been supplanted by the heartier stock of the Internet?

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