Whereas Paul Starr's TNR opus on the death of newspapers largely focused on the loss of a state government watchdog function, Wire creator David Simon (doing some freelance investigation of a Baltimore cop who shot an unarmed man) sounds a warning about the municipal level

Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger trying to find out [officer] McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of the spin or omission.

I didn't trip over a herd of hungry Sun reporters either, but that's the point. In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to challenge any of it.

--Michael Crowley