David Simon is Journalism’s Lighthouse

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.

By the way, you work for New York Magazine?

Yes. Ha. Go on.
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!

What’s the gold standard?
The gold standard, as far as I’m concerned, is a bunch of people who go out and acquire information in a systemic way and then bring it back to a collective of people with real experience and real institutional memory, who have an understanding of the continuity and the context of issues, and can determine the news value and publish it accordingly. Or not publish it. The gatekeeper aspect of modern journalism, before it started to fall apart, had real value to me. Again, there’s a moment in this film where they don’t publish because they don’t have the story completely surrounded yet, and it’s a moment of great editorial integrity in the film. That’s the gold standard — having editors who truly edit and take their roles as gatekeepers seriously. The stuff that’s incomplete or the stuff that might be inaccurate or unfair gets a second look and maybe gets passed on. That’s all I’m saying.

How do you feel about me running this on Vulture?
It’s up to you. But focus on Tom and the movie, because the movie is great and it deserves it.

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