Jada Yuan’s Vulture Q&A with David Simon starts off with a great deal of talk about Tom McCarthy. The Wire creator addresses the casting of McCarthy for the final season of the HBO series, the real-life inspirations for the slippery reporter character of Scott Templeton and McCarthy’s segue to the more hallowed journalism storytelling ground of Spotlight.
But the exchange for which this interview is going to be remembered comes later. One that Simon sets up by explaining that it’s not the disappearance of newsprint that worries him but rather the dissipation of the newsroom:
“As I often tell people who try to suggest that Internet bloggers can somehow replace the ethos and talent of the newsroom, some of the greatest moments of journalism I ever witnessed were editors spiking stories and not publishing things that were not properly reported or were only partially true, partially reported, or things that they were unsure of.”
“Holding back from putting something out there that might not yet be as fair as it could be, some of those moments were the ones that I was proud to be involved with. There’s no comparable moment I can imagine on the Internet. Everything just gets thrown up there the moment somebody gets a photograph or a fact. You really see the lack of an ethic.”
Simon’s words perfectly describe some of this week’s coverage of the San Bernardino mass shooting. After confirming that his interviewer, Yuan, works for New York magazine as well as Vulture, Simon goes on to viscerally illustrate his point about print vs. Internet:
“The magazine has a standard within its pages that is infinitely superior to Vulture. Now, sometimes Vulture just repeats the magazine and that’s fine. Sometimes there’s very meaningful reporting and essays on Vulture. But sometimes Vulture is a piece of shit, in a way that the magazine is not. The delivery system of the future belongs to the Internet, and we’re not going to be cutting down trees and throwing them on people’s doorsteps, so Vulture is the way of the future. But God help us if it’s the standard!”
Yan’s final interview question is: “How do you feel about me running this on Vulture?” To read Simon’s reply, click here. Kudos to Vulture for running the above comments and for cheekily sub-headlining Simon as their “unofficial ombudsman.” Perhaps the litmus test, moving forward, for quick-posting Vulture Web content should be: Would David Simon approve?
Previously on FishbowlNY:
David Simon’s Journalism Survival Trick