The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik acknowledged that it’s a classic case of rock-and-a-hard place criticism reviewing the new season of “The Wire,” which features a prominent — and mostly unflattering — portrait of the Baltimore Sun.

Zurawik delivered one of the few semi-negative reviews of David Simon‘s HBO series, which predictably received overwhelming praise from other critics — and just as predictably opened to modest ratings, even by HBO’s less-exacting standards.

“Whether I praise or pan Simon’s made-for-TV version of the paper, the fact that I work for the Sun means I am likely to be mistrusted, if not damned,” Zurawik wrote, before proceeding to label the newsroom scenes the season’s “Achilles’ heel,” sacrificing entertainment in favor of “journalistic shop talk.”

Series creator Simon is a former Sun reporter, and several onetime colleagues have accused him of using the media theme as an excuse to settle old scores.

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Simon concedes on Jim Romenesko‘s poynter.org/medianews website that while the storyline is fictional, it is rooted in real-life concerns about the newspaper biz, including “out-of-town chain ownership, wholesale cutbacks in the newsroom, the declining scope of coverage and the continued influence of the prize culture in newspapering, up to and including the temptation among less ethical practitioners to hype or manufacture the news.”