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" I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced that I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings."

The Baltimore Sun is Baltimore's local broadsheet and newspaper of record. However, like most of the institutions of The Wire, it has fallen on hard times of late, losing money at a prodigious rate and suffering from a staff brain drain, as ambitious reporters use it as a springboard for careers with the New York Times or Washington Post. In addition, it is now run by the Tribune Company from Chicago, who are less interested in local journalism than they are with doing gltizy "state of the nation" feature pieces with one eye on a Pulitzer Prize. note  The Sun storyline is largely used as a vehicle for David Simon to reflect on journalism, contrasting his own no-nonsense, context-rich style in the form of Gus Haynes with the more essay-like, narrow-focused journalism of the Sun's owners. It's fairly obvious which one he prefers.


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    Augustus "Gus" Haynes 
Played by: Clark Johnson

Our job is to report the news, not to manufacture it.

Editor for The Baltimore Sun, who does his best to keep the paper alive and relevant during bad times for the industry.

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Has this little quip, almost EXACTLY played straight:
    You ever notice how mothers of 4 are always catching hell? Murder, hit and run, burnt up in row house fires, swindled by bigamists.
  • Author Avatar: Runs into many of the same problems David Simon dealt with during his time at the Sun.
  • Da Editor: An experienced reporter who serves as city desk editor. A in-universe Hedge Trimmer who likes to deflate and cut a lot from the articles.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very witty and sardonic.
  • Dramatic Irony: After McNulty gives credibility to the first phone call by the "serial killer", completely made up by Templeton.
    Well, 10 minutes ago I'd' have said this whole thing was complete bullshit. Shows what I know, I guess.
  • Fatal Flaw: Gus is too honest and always reports Scott's wrongdoings to his corrupt bosses.
  • The Fettered: A principled editor.
  • Humble Hero: He's content with reporting the local news with integrity and has no ambition or desire for a higher, flashy profile.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Gus learns that they shut down Alma too for daring to defend him.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Bitter and cynical, but still committed to keep rectitude in the news, if not the profession.
  • The Last DJ: Alongside a few other colleagues from the paper, he's a member of the old guard that is bent on maintaining its integrity.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: His fate after the higher-ups side with Templeton's sensationalized drama pieces.
  • Working-Class Hero: Upon hearing the word "collegial" from Klebanow, he resents it as highbrow and claims he dropped out of journalism school. Gus worked his way up from the police beat and labor beat to the editor position, and his instinct and his contacts are more important than his credentials.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Demoted and moved aside for sticking to his principles.

    Alma Gutierrez
Played by: Michelle Paress


A young Hispanic reporter who has the bad luck to come onto The Baltimore Sun as it is downsizing.

    Scott Templeton 
Played by: Thomas McCarthy
"Fuck you Gus!"

Every last word is in my notes!

A young reporter who falsifies his stories. He is roped into the fake serial killer story, and ends up winning a Pulitzer while his more scrupulous colleagues are demoted.

  • Ambition Is Evil: An unprincipled careerist.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Heavily implied to be the case with him. He makes outrageous claims about the stories he covers and fervently defends their authenticity despite them being clear fabrications. When Scott is finally confronted by Mcnulty and learns that Baltimore's supposed "serial killer" was made up, he can only stare in disbelief, as if he's realizing for the first time that his career is built off of the lies he has told.
  • Consummate Liar: Played with. You'd think he would be this, in order to get away with publishing fake stories in the news, but in reality he's more compulsive than consummate; there's a lot of quantity but little quality in his deceptions. The truth is he's actually a pretty Bad Liar and seldom takes any steps to prevent the truth from being discovered, but he is well protected as the higher ups desperately want big prizes and big stories to increase their circulation, (or at least increase their own profiles in the news world) so their whole intention is to allow him to be as flashy and yellow as he can be so that the Pulitzer looks their way. Eventually Scott's lies become so blatant that he lies even when he doesn't have to: when there is a candlelight vigil for the homeless and he is tasked to gather quotes from attendees (which are plenty and readily available), he chooses to take an easier route and make up quotes.
  • Contrived Coincidence: One of his worst lies. To reignite a serial killer case that is cooling off, he reports that just as he walked from the office, he saw a vagrant being pulled into a van. This raises several flags and is the straw that breaks the camel's back for Gus.
    Gus: And pretty soon they're seeing some amazing shit. They're the lucky ones who just happen to be standing on the right street corner in Tel Aviv when the pizza joint blows up and the human head rolls down the street with the eyes still blinking [...] It always starts with something true, something confirmed. But then you've got a son of a bitch who just happens to be walking in the Guilford entrance when the mysterious gray van comes...
  • Karma Houdini: Among the worst without blood in his hands. His unethical practices get his editor demoted and win him a Pulitzer Prize.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Based on Jim Haner, David Simon's co-worker in the Sun who invented quotes and events without punishment from his editors. Templeton shares traits with other fabulists such as Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley, who are all name-checked by Haynes when he's trying to convince the editors of Templeton's guilt. His status as a Pulitzer winner who fabricated his story has shades of Janet Cooke too, although she was caught. He also has shades of Walter Duranty, one of the most abhorrent journalistic fabricators, who won a Pulitzer Prize despite regurgitating Stalinist propaganda about how there was totally no famine in Ukraine. Nope. None at all.
  • Not So Different: McNulty's self-loathing comes to a head when he compares himself to Templeton.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: He starts out as just another writer trying to get by, until he's driven by a combination of frustration (due to the mounting pressure from the paper for big stories) and fear (the paper keeps downsizing and Scott doesn't have the work history to get hired by a bigger name paper) to start fabricating stories. Eventually hits it big by pretending to witness a kidnapping attempt by McNulty's nonexistent serial killer. By the end of his character arc he's become a sleazy, unlikeable jerkass whose actions have harmed others and he has no remorse about it and continues to run deceptions in his columns.
  • Protection from Editors: In-universe, his stories are too flashy and profitable to be hampered by the guardians of the truth.
  • Purple Prose: He claims he wants a straight and dry style, but that the editors make him write in the other way. He's obviously lying, as he likes to inflate everything.
  • Smug Snake: An unlikeable and arrogant character who's more lucky than smart in terms of his schemes' success.
  • Spanner in the Works: To the attempt to reform the Police Department. His claim that Daniels was involved with getting Burrell fired results in Burrell holding a grudge and handing Daniels' file over to Nerese Campbell who in turn uses the file to force Daniels to either resign or juke the stats for her.
  • The Unfettered
  • Too Dumb to Live: Scott throws his empty notepad in front of Alma and storms away just after declaring that everything he's being accused of fabricating is in his notes. The only reason he got away is because his bosses enable him.

    Michael "Fletch" Fletcher
Played by: Brandon Young

A general assignments reporter at the Sun who writes a character piece on Bubbles. He enjoys a promotion to senior line editor when Gus is demoted at the end of the series.

  • Brilliant, but Lazy: On the one hand, he's a talented writer; on the other, he repeatedly fails to meet deadlines.
  • Character as Himself
  • Changing of the Guard: His piece on Bubbles is topical and true-to-life, and he might well be the next Haynes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: His promotion at the end. This plot development is significant in the larger context of the series: the point of season 5 was to demonstrate that the newspapers miss the important stories of the city, but the quality and depth of Fletcher's article (and its warm reception) shows that the situation with the press isn't hopeless.
    • Further implied by the last shot of the usually cynical Gus staring approvingly at Fletcher, as if to say, "For every Scott Templeton, there's a Michael Fletcher."

    Thomas Klebanow
Played by: David Costabile

I know that they're jealous of how much play his stories get, but the truth is...

Managing editor of The Baltimore Sun.

  • Da Editor: A softspoken but antagonist version. He accuses Gus that his objections to Templeton are personal, not professional, and protects the latter instead.
  • The Dragon: To Whiting.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Prefers to have good-looking twentysomething women in the newsroom, even if they can't write, instead of veteran but old-looking journos.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Judging by his gestures and mannerisms, Klebanow is well aware of Templeton's lies and even with evidence he learns that Gus' protests regarding Templeton are well founded; still, he shuts down Gus in every instance claiming that he is jealous of Templeton and has a personal vendetta against him.
    • At one point, Klebanow gives Gus some grief about Gus' use of salty language, pointing out the lack of respect and breach of office decorum. Fair enough, he has a point, but later in a three way discussion between Gus, Scott, and Klebanow, Scott furiously curses out Gus (who, let us remember, is essentially Scott's manager) and Klebanow says not a peep about it, even with Gus giving a pointed look after Scott storms off.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Klebanow is based on former Baltimore Sun managing editor Bill Marimow, whom series creator David Simon despises. This is clearly shown in the story via the feud with Gus Haynes. (Incidentally, this is Simon's second potshot at Marimow, after naming the Trojan Horse Lt. Charles Marimow after him in Season 4.

    James Whiting
Played by: Sam Freed

I don't want some amorphous series detailing society's ills. If you leave everything in, soon you've got nothing.

Executive editor of the paper.

  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Whiting is apparently not malicious in his intent to pursue a Pulitzer prize for the newspaper, though he is willing to forego iffy reporting and pompous notes even when he's presented with obvious evidence, arguing that this would keep the newspaper afloat. Gus argues that as soon as he wins the prize, he'll jump elsewhere at the first sign of trouble.
  • Glory Hound: In his hunger for prizes, he tolerates and defends a reporter who makes it up wholesale.
  • Hypocrite: Goes along with Templeton's ruse to win a Pulitzer, giving him (according to Gus) a platform to be able to move laterally to another newspaper if the Baltimore Sun goes down.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: The worst type.
  • Smug Snake: Despite his high opinion of himself, he's portrayed more like a successful snake oil seller than as a true journalist.
  • Take That!: Via No Celebrities Were Harmed (except the real person took offense), Whiting is based on John Carrol, the executive editor who was at the Baltimore Sun when David Simon took a buyout from the paper, and whom he feels helped ruin the paper. Hence his characterization as a gimmicky, shallow and nigh-villainous editor.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The very definition of an educated fool, fond of boot-lickers like Templeton and Klebanow.


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