In the January/February issue of Columbia Journalism Review, we explored the challenges journalists face portraying cities in a way that both explains their systemic problems and illuminates their residents’ humanity. Our cover story, “Secrets of the City,” profiled The Wire creator David Simon—himself a former city reporter for the Baltimore Sun—in the context of journalism, asking how wide an angle reporters should use in framing their narratives of urban life.

On Wednesday, March 26, Simon spoke to students at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, discussing The Wire, whose final season recreates a fictionalized Sun, and the challenges—reportorial, financial, ethical—that paper’s reporters face. In journalism, explaining “the who, the what, the where, the when, and the how” are relatively easy, Simon told his audience. “The why,” however, “is epic. The why is where journalism becomes an adult game.”

An audio file of the talk is available here. Enjoy.