popular thinking

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I have something in common with David Simon?

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David Simon, who worked for the Baltimore Sun from 1983-1995, and now is best known as the creator of HBO's groundbreaking series, The Wire, wrote a lengthy piece for Sunday's Washington Post wondering what happened to the newspaper business. It's a good read. Well, perhaps good is not quite the best way to describe the wholesale decline in values and standards in our modern media.

The fifth and final season of The Wire uses the Sun newsroom as a way to probe how the media has or hasn't done its civic duty in covering poverty and crime in our country. Some TV critics have griped that Simon doesn't get the newsroom right. They're missing the point. Plus, I think he gets it close enough. I'm sure police officers and others would have something to say about how the show has portrayed their inside worlds, too. The point, though, is how serious problems in our communities get marginalized or overlooked for trivial matters.

Just look around. Daily coverage devoted to the comings and goings of Britney Spears? Why, exactly? TV shows and "news" stations that justify the paparazzi by buying their photos and using their new-media video coverage as "news."

One of my former haunts sent two reporters to the Sundance film festival. Not to cover film, mind you. Just gossip.

Even the campaign coverage, in this 2008 presidential race, with so much on the line for the future of our country, the mainstream media has paid little attention to what the candidates believe or where they stand. Instead, it's just as it has been in every election cycle in modern history in America. Polls, polls, more polls. And pundits offering predictions or spinning the polls. Only now, the candidates themselves have become savvy enough to play into all of this, so we have even less reason or opportunity to know how they'd serve us as leaders.

In talking with another comedian, I mentioned, only half-jokingly, that we could be reliving the fall of the Roman Empire here. America's role as a world leader, could be in danger as we slip into an abyss. Of course, I'm oversimplifying. It'd take a lot more than a blog post to go into the particulars of our nation's priorities and its standing in the world.

But the media certainly isn't helping any.

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