David Simon’s Journalism Survival Trick

It involves good governance and telling a story well.

The latest project from journalist-turned-TV-producer David Simon, Show Me A Hero, debuts Sunday night on HBO. The miniseries is based on a true story and is set in the world of Yonkers, New York public housing in the late 1980s.

In an interview with Slate’s Isaac Chotiner, Simon revealed that he not only never tried to play the hero while working as a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, but that it was also a necessary approach for him to the job:

“In all my experience of doing straight journalism, I found that the only way to behave and not drive yourself crazy was to not hold yourself responsible for actually fixing anything. It isn’t in your job description to fix anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the process or hope for the best. I am not a libertarian. I believe in governance. I believe in good governance as being a goal.”

“If it’s about hanging pelts on my wall, or winning prizes, then it’s a game. If it’s about telling a story as well as you can, then I have some place to stand on.”

Telling a story as well as you can. The sad truth is that today, many of those working in the field have neither the time or proper payscale support to find their way to that promised land. Read the rest of Chotiner’s very lively conversation with The Wire maestro here.