David Simon, The Wire co-creator, to receive William Julius Wilson award

The Wire has been used in a number of college courses (one example here) and now David Simon, co-creator of the HBO series, will be awarded the William Julius Wilson award from Washington State University:

David Simon, co-creator of the HBO television series “The Wire,” has been named recipient of the Washington State University William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice…

Wilson received his doctoral degree in sociology from WSU and is one of the nation’s leading scholars in the fields of African American studies, race, civil rights, poverty and social and public policy issues. He was the first person to receive the award named in his honor in 2009. He is scheduled to attend this symposium…

“We are honoring David Simon with this award because of his significant and innovative contributions to promote social policy, in particular by raising the public’s awareness of systemic social inequality, poverty and the complex way that social surroundings affect individual-level decisions,” said Julie Kmec, associate professor of sociology and chair of the committee organizing the event…

Three Harvard scholars, including Wilson, recently pointed out that the series has “done more to enhance both the popular and the scholarly understanding of the challenges of urban life and the problems of urban inequality than any other program in the media or academic publication.”

Several questions:

1. I wonder if this award for Simon, also a former journalist, is part of a larger trend (the ASA has been doing this for a few years now – David Brooks was the latest to be recognized) of sociologists recognizing journalists as key people/gatekeepers for spreading sociological ideas.

2. What other television shows accomplish similar things to The Wire?

3. I had forgotten that William Julius Wilson received his PhD from Washington State since he is more commonly associated with the University of Chicago or Harvard. Of prominent sociologists, how many have received degrees from places like Washington State versus the typical top-ranked programs (Harvard, Chicago, Berkeley, Wisconsin-Madison, etc.)?

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