tv [untitled] CSPAN June 8, 2009 1:30pm-2:00pm EDT
could support a family on and there was a living wage that they pay me to go to the baltimore police department's and kiss enough desk sergeant's asses every day to find out what was going on and then to kill somebody else's assets to find out where i was being lied to and then to compare one line to the other and to take them out for drinks afterwards to find out what else i wasn't in that a store that might make a follow-up story. it was 14 or 15 hours a day -- nobody does that as a hobby and the vanity of the internet have a sort of approach the very edge of what journalism is, the vanity of a thus far of this very imager medium is to say we're already doing journalism. look, i went to a council meeting. i reported on this. you went to the public like kabuki face of politics which is the council meeting. but later on if you actually knew anybody in the bowels of the the city administration you might have actually reported on what is really going on, but for
that to you have needed to be a full-time and you deserve to be paid. well, journalism has done so badly at that and that is -- well the guys at my paper were pursuing this pulitzer and that concern and will take of a town this and report on how good our reporting is and try to get the governor's schedule hearings and report on the hearings and then put it all together and by the way we care about this from january to december because after that it's another pulitzer submission so we won't care about this after december 31st -- while they were doing that and resources to that because that is their resumes the baltimore sun ceased to have a labor report in this city where the unions were being eviscerated. it's used to have a party reporter in a city where half the adult black males are without work. that's not an economic model that is viable, that is a model for unbelievable poverty. you know, is used to have a court reporter covering city courthouse for a. a half because all they did was
generate copy for a news hole that was shrinking their and so what do we do? let's stop covering the courthouse is because that way we will fit their in i mean, the be system was the first thing they ever is rated because you know what that nobody wanted it pulitzer prize and nobody gets promoted and is to be the editor in chief of the l.a. times because they covered the city. journalism has its own fall statistic, the editorial side, and that false statistic is the pulitzers. you want to fix journalism on the editorial side, if the pulitzer prize committee started saying, you know what, we are going to get out five pulitzers for beat reporting every year but you have to cover the beaver three, four or five years. that is right. when you have lashley covered it long enough to have an impact in terms of your all over what ever agency or issue, you have been a medical reporter for five years now senator stafford pulitzer.
the level of sophistication in newsrooms would have gone up not down and wouldn't be about juking some project of making a sound like you really hit a home run when you basically have a single over the second baseman eric instead you'd actually be increasing pavers capacity for doing great journalism. but you know, the gamesmanship of our award centric profession is such that that is not going to happen. >> altos like to know that i have never won one of those awards. helps my credibility. >> me neither the. >> is in your view that one of the turning points had to do with a concentration of media amongst shareholder driven companies? was that really what changed in the time span you have been rising? >> the chains of publicly owned newspaper companies run by businessmen, not by people who come up to the newsroom, completely divorced journalism from its original mission and
made it to a profit center for wall street. and a very quickly came to the conclusion and they were correct that we can make more money in the short term by putting out a lousy product and by putting out a good product. let's cut the news hole, let's cut the staffing. in think about the idea of buyouts. by as for the operative way in which we reduce ourselves as a professional. that shows is the content we have for our own product. you want to have a reduction in force because of the at the head office us so, layoffs. do layoffs. signore, most of these are deals papers and if they are not good by seniority. take the young guys who have uncovered the beach for nine or 10 years, don't think the institutional memory of the paper and by the way the guys who can take the buyouts, there are jerks like me, they have an option. somebody else's giving them a book option, the washington post to say we will hire you and the baltimore sun offers a buyout and the people who took the
first to buyouts of the baltimore sun had options. not all of them, some good people really wanted to stay because they were committed in their kids were in school but by and large when ago with buyouts instead of layoffs you are saying we want to take the most expensive reporters. we want to take the ones to have the most benefits in the ones making the most money. all we care about is the bottom line. we know what is going to happen is the buyout rates will be filled with the people who are the best people and have other options but we went with buyouts not layoffs and that tells you what was going on back in chicago and l.a. and everywhere else. they just didn't give a damn about the product. all they cared about was 5%, 10%, 15 percent, not enough -- enough to make 37.5%. it was shameful, we destroy ourselves. >> some members of the area's vast given how big the bad media outlets perform i hear stories with a ton of stores like the iraq war, why should the public trust them all? >> because the alternative is even more miserable.
listen, kudos to the pulitzer this year for not giving anything out for financial reporting. [laughter] they got that one right. and iraq was pretty much a failure by most mainstream media, but ultimately i don't believe that any other free work. listen, it doesn't matter -- i do believe that bringing dead trees to your doorstep is now anachronism, that whatever else happens we're in a path where more and more subscriptions are going to be going on-line. the issue is whether people will pay for them, but given that i do believe the future of journalism is people are paid to do this job, if more people are paid more to do this job, if the salaries improve our going to get a better class of reporter.
if you're able to hire more editors, not less, and have more experience you'll get a better class of product as well but until that happens i just alcee any merit to the idea of a thousand loggers equal 100 pit reporters because there are so many more of them they will be -- i just don't buy it. i read a lot of blogs. everything from commentary to ours in criticism, there are things that newspapers that are irrelevant. criticism, television criticism, it is basically irrelevant. there are people, there are better sides work film criticism and film critics and newspapers. this is true. there is no reason why you can't watch films and comment on them as a hobby -- that you can do. paternalism, covering something -- journalism covering something self sustaining as an american
institution pay into a police or state department, i don't see it happening except that people are paid to be in an adversarial stance against the institution in terms of trying to acquire information the institution doesn't want you to have and get it out and i don't see that being done in any other way than with mainstream media model. could be a mainstream media model where it is directly the internet, it could be the equivalent of an iso newsletter that just covers one aspect of american government. a could be -- it doesn't have to be, but the thing that will make it consistent is whoever is working for what ever remark there will be paid and will be paid enough to make it worthwhile and paid enough to bring people into the profession who can do the job and until that model is restored and people are paid, i don't see -- as bad a job we have done over the next 10 years watch what happens without us. >> someone asks, assuming that you would, how to propose
greater stakeholder involvement in improving journalism? >> i would have to ask what is stakeholder is. >> my guess is someone who is a consumer of news which is just about everybody. >> in no, this is going to sound really wrong, but i never really cared about what the readers thought. i am a worse marketing guy in the world. they used to tell me that the readers on shorter stories, the readers want really localize news, the readers want this, the readers want that, they want punchlines. i can't on c-span. [laughter] i was going there but i am on c-span. >> it is cable. >> not my cable. [laughter] but in no way i have come to believe and i came to believe as i was a journalist i don't ride for those people if they exist. i wanted to write people for the
stories if they have intimate knowledge of what i was writing about they would say that dicot so if it was a detective and i am -- i was a homicide detective not just in baltimore and out that he would like everything in would be mad about stuff and would like it when i rent on a cop who i thought deserve to be ranked on, but i didn't want him to say this jump dozen of my job. i figured if i've got to read for him and was able to get to the story and not be disgusted, then the raiders would follow and i have sort of proceeded on that basis since i began writing like water articles. at some point that became what i actually thought newspapers should do. again, i really against generalist's so the idea is to cover something well enough to explain to the mythical seventh grade educated reader, the guy they told us about the journalism school, your reader will have a seventh reeducation -- to hell with them then.
i don't want to write for that guy. [laughter] who does? [applause] but eventually they published a whole newspaper to read a bad guy called usa today. [laughter] and as of the baltimore sun said they are all around that, no jobs and we went through that phase. i want to write stories for the people who are living that event and that i believe other people will fall because you are writing with interior knowledge that says i am worth reading, i really know this beat. i wasn't a good police reporter for the first two or three years. i had all the headlines, i didn't get beat, but there is nothing there i would save. it was only after i had been on the beat four or six years and eligible for a buyout that the shows and started getting worthwhile. and so i believe if you tell a story that people don't know, you come to the campfire with the best for people will follow and sit down and listen.
trying to anticipate what readers want, that is what got us into this mess. go and get the best laurie. >> now i know what our president of usa today was kind enough to ask me to host a day. [laughter] i want to ask about the preprocessor. i'm sure they appreciate that. [laughter] that is a good jumping off point to go into when you have been doing in more recent years, do you take a different approach in creating content for your television audience in terms of leading them? >> no, i am just as in different to them as i have always been. [laughter] but it is a different model. i don't get mine knows that a joint for journalism and say "the wire" is any way comparable to journalism. "the wire" en homicide in
generation kill the my generation kill is based on journalism so it is a little different, but it was a trauma. the and journalism should and give its nose at a joint by trying to compete -- when you can make it a bigger share of the story and make it as graceful as you want the are to be. and you get to make choices and you don't get to do that in journalism nor should you. i wouldn't compare to it -- it's a different skill cent. when i left journalism at the first thing i walked into a writing room on homicide and everybody was a playwright that came out of the jobless school and had success on the stage. they said the rain check, and. delhi and all these guys. at best i read one or to check off place and i don't even think i have the cliff notes. but they basically said you are in another realm, to something
different, and so it is not the same gig. the best i can say about "the wire" is the impulse behind during the show was in journalism, but just to the impulse, not being strain into something that has a totally different purpose. >> you have done remarkably well for someone who might suggest is ill-prepared for it. how have you done so well in making that transition? >> i had one good it skill sets which came from journalism which is i had a pretty good ear for dialogue. i am not an irish were a german or an african-american, and i am not -- but i found that i had two things which could translate which was a good ear for dialogue and 60% of writing trauma as dialog and other representatives pacing and i had a good teacher which was pacing the mr. down every line
justifies itself, it is really even more ruthless than journalism. but the other thing i had going for me, does anybody know who homer bogart was? i see a few nods. when i became a journalist, he became a hero very quickly. my dad told me about him. he was a york or so he remembered him from his time at the herald tribune and the times heritage his great skill sets was that he didn't mind being a jerk or an asshole -- not an asshole but a groove. i am serious. journalism is supposed to be in italy curious profession. i can tell you the number of people i work with that didn't want to be seen asking a stupid question or did not want to be seen asking a question or didn't want to ask a question where it was unclear they are, indeed, the answer ever tried to catch you. the idea of a journalist asking are walking into a room and
saying i don't understand any of this, held may. there is a great story, homer have a great speech impediment and they did and let him be a reporter until his third is because they thought he is an idiot, he is a copy boy and finally they let him be a reporter in he was great. he was pulling back things as a mature reporter nobody else was getting, he won the first pulitzer, went up in the elevator with -- he went up the elevator at the empire still building when the plane hit the building and he won a spot news pulitzer because he was the guy they did not notice going up with the mayor and he went up to where the plane hit the building. but his great skill was to find in this one story or i forget who it was but it was a captain of industry who was talking to the conscience and i can't believe the reporter he said to interview and he said what was the matter with them, he was a complete idiot and had to explain everything to him. [laughter] well, try to imagine a wide
thirtysomething guys standing at monroe and pray and street and saying, you guys are selling drugs, how does this work for you exactly? because it was not a lot more sophisticated than that. and ultimately years later the 15 year-old kid who was at the center of the book when he was about 22 or 23 and we were sort of reminiscing about the book when i met him, he said the reason he decided to start talking to me is that one day u.s. selling on vine street, running back and forth from corner to where he had hidden the drugs and he sees me up on his grandfather steps watching and heç said, david,ç it looks like heç didn't know anything. you looked so pathetic. [laughter] i decided içç had toç help ia wonder you weren't getting robbed every day. that was myç skills that was
okay, i don'tçç know anythingd those two things made it really easy to learn and it also made a really easy when i walked into the writer's room and said, how you do this? and to this day, we have guys who come in, they are doing it spec work or they're going to read a script and they are -- they want to act like i know how to do this "the wire" because i haveç written threeç law-and-r episodes -- i know they are going to mess up. they don't come in terrified with 20 questions on their sleeve they are doomed. and i think journalists it is amazing how many people got into the profession are not curious or terrified to be curious. >> this question was, what kind of relationship do now have with the rank-and-file and the baltimore police department and how they reacted to your criticism of the department's policy of not releasing names of
police officers involved in shootings? >> the detectives and patrolman who are still there, you've got to remember is but a lot of years with the ones who are still there up to maybe the rank of lieutenant are fine with me. and the ones who are in middle management can kind of go either way up to the rank of may be major and kernels are above it my dad's. that is the way it should be if you cover a beat. that is the best way is if the bosses can't stand to, middle management sometimes will talk to if it is in their interest here and you know, everybody who is below that the summit to buy a beer for a listen to the amaranth. that is always a the way it has been in kind of where -- i can't imagine covering a be two any other way that would work. >> a lot of people are anxious to hear about the other projects you might be working on. can you talk about your project you are now working on in louisiana and how that is coming along?
>> well, we are filming a show which is about your lens after the storm and is really not "the wire" in. with a soundtrack. it is not a crime show. it is about people try to find their way home and reconstitute their lives in the city that was very ill treated in the wake of the storm. i don't mean the immediate wake of all the years that followed, the national response to what new orleans has gone through is an embarrassment. and that will probably air the first season in 2010 on hbo. poti mouth can write for anything else but hbo [laughter] does not know how to write between dialogue that his parents to listen to. >> it will be on a in a without a language two. >> by the way if you aren't an airline flight and something comes up and my name is on a turn on the headphones rivet it
won't make any sense. >> especially with the children. did i read that one of the intentions of you working with the subject matter is you want to use katrina as a bit of making an analogy to the federal government's performance with let's say regulating the head of the financial crisis? is that correct? >> that sounds so it didactic as to be a room clearer. [laughter] >> we're still here. >> i think there is an analogy to be made in of a character to say anything that directly it would be cut out of the script, but it is true. new orleans was hit with a category two, high category two. not even in category three hurricane. the hurricane, if you tell people from new orleans their city was john by a hurricane there will get very angry and rightly so. their city was drowned by a corps of engineers and by shoddy workmanship and stuff that wasn't built to code. in bad decisions in terms of the
transportation policy. the ineffectiveness of congress in terms of dealing with mississippi river issues. this is our country and you compare to the dutch to have managed to keep most of their country out of the north sea for generations. it is humiliating. and if you think about those canal walls, how badly the rebels, how much corruption went into the poor minister of them and the poor planning, and to think about the sec and all of the attendant regulations that was unfair said that you couldn't sell crack and call it a gold on wall street, selling crack and calling and gold eventually comes home and came home to new orleans about four years before it came home to the rest of the country in a very literal way. not in a matter of -- metaphorical financial way.
so in a way new orleans when i really admire about people is they're trying to find their way home. because it is one of the great places in america culturally and they are trying to find their way back and they are doing it on their own. there has been a real loss -- a look everything from the way the money was a minister to the way fema became and not just in that immediate aftermath but in the months and years since into now in terms of the state and local government and what they're doing in terms of everything from zoning issues to the hospitals, that city is enduring and try to find its way home on its own. without illusion any more about what the country is, how hollow america act is when it comes to certain things. and i find that to be interesting and admirable and is kind of what i want to pay attention to now because i think we're all in that boat. a lot of the things that we thought we believe to -- a lot
of the things we believed were there to keep certain parameters and certain standards inherent in everything systemic in our lives really weren't there and they had been eviscerated over the course of decades. and so now we are where we are act and orleans is looking at us now a little bit like, what to expect? we have been there. >> if you allow me for a moment, we're almost out of time before asking the last question and for those have been here before we have a couple of important matters to take care of and talk about upcoming speakers, first of all,. on june 11 the general james conway, dawn of the u.s. marine corps will be here. june 25th there should be interesting, stan kasten, president of the washington nationals will be here. i don't know if they will put chicken wire in front. june 26, robert chairman of the
financial accounting standards board will adjust regulatory reform of the financial markets. and secondly, if you will mine coming up here as is our tradition we like to present to with a traditional npc coffee mug. >> thank you. >> and one final question and that is a simple one -- to what newspapers do you currently subscribe? [laughter] >> i subscribe to the new york times because again it is delivered in baltimore for about the same price as the baltimore sun but is still has some news event. so what are you going to do? >> well, let's offer a great round of applause to david simon. [applause] i like to thank you all for coming today and for those listening out like to think national press club is staff members of melinda cook, pat
nelson, joanne booze and howard rothman for helping to organize today's lunch, and things to the npc library. bill video archive is provided by the press club of broadcast operations center, events available for free download on itunes as well as the website and non-members may purchase transcripts and videotapes by calling 20262 -- 7598 or firstname.lastname@example.org. and for more information about the press club you can go to the website www.press.org. that is it for today, thank you so much. we are adjourned. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> sunny and warm in the nation's capital on this monday, june 8, the u.s. senate about to start work for the week. after some general speeches, lawmakers will continue work on a bill regulating tobacco products with a vote to enhance the bill scheduled for 5:30 p.m. eastern today. meanwhile the house started its debt 12:30 p.m. eastern with morning our speeches and will be back for legislative work at 2:00 p.m. at this hour with a number of bills including one trying to help with veterans find jobs. wash that live on c-span. and in about 50 minutes to this white house briefing live on c-span 3. now the senate is live on c-span 2.