The Croakey post below about television series, The Wire, has prompted the following response from Dr Alex Wodak, President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation:
“Croakey is right that ‘The Wire’ is a remarkable series and exceptional in that it depicts a complex reality from multiple perspectives.
But the argument advanced by David Simons, the primary series creator, that change in sensitive social policy areas is not possible while the news media (especially newspapers) are withering in the face of financial pressures and competition from the new media sources, is very doubtful.
At least in the case of drug policy, which is a major part of ‘The Wire’. Two decades ago, global drug prohibition was impregnable and unchallengeable. Now the USA has elected a President who has conceded publicly that the War on Drugs is ‘an utter failure’.
The demise of drug prohibition has not happened just yet but it is hard to deny that it is well on its way.
Have quality broadsheet newspapers contributed to that change? Not a bit.
The advent of the internet and e-mail has made this debate a much more level playing field. That has made a huge difference. Information released in Vienna, Washington DC or Kabul is available around the world almost instantaneously.
The result is that advocates of drug law reform have been able to use this information like never before. I am as much an admirer of quality broadsheet newspapers as anyone.
But quality newspapers have not been the reason that global drug prohibition looks like becoming an endangered species. Look at Australian newspapers today.
For every single published article or letter questioning the effectiveness of global drug prohibition we have several newspaper commentaries arguing that drug law enforcement can achieve in communities what it cannot even achieve in prisons.”
For Alex Wodak’s review of The Wire, see this Crikey article.