Superman can smash through brick walls, shrug off speeding bullets and hurl boulders across the sky. Yet none of these abilities will keep his journalism career from grinding to a halt.
Don’t tell this to columnist Connie Schultz, who takes the Man of Steel to task for deserting his longtime employer The Daily Planet in a recent piece for Parade. “Superman has stomped out of the newsroom and trashed the industry that gave him cover,” she writes. “Rumor has it that he left the paper to blog. Bad idea, meet worst nightmare.”
Why Ms. Schultz can’t face the realities of the business – in plain speak, it’s ceasing to be one – and wish the guy well as he sets out to keep on reporting is beyond us.
No newspaper seems to be as hard hit as the one set up in a comic book or comic strip. At The Daily Planet, economic pressures have created a new focus on coverage of sex scandals and Superman sightings – things that may sell papers but do little to illuminate and educate through truth-telling. The avian hacks over at the Treetops Tattler Tribune in “Shoe” have long fluttered their wings over the precarious financial position of their publication. Brenda Starr has been canned from the Flash and her strip put out to pasture. In Doonesbury, longtime scribe Rick Redfern must now live on pennies after being laid off from a newspaper and forced into piecemeal blogging.
Only at the small-market Santa Royale Gazette, the chronicle of the fictional tony enclave that gives a salary to Mary Worth, do newspaper executives manage to greet the day with optimism – for reasons we can’t quite pin down.
Ms. Schultz probably doesn’t want to hear any of this. To her way of thinking, Clark Kent is a traitor to the business (she even goes so far as to accuse him of ethical lapes and fuzzy math).
This is the typical response from a crusty veteran who can envision no life other than that of what has essentially become swabbing the deck of the Titanic. It’s doomed, but those who leave it have to go for a long swim. And her essay is something of a self-serving piece for Parade, the Sunday-newspaper supplement whose financial health hinges on the success of good old-fashioned newspapers.
The creative folks behind Superman – all housed at Time Warner’s DC Comics – tell us he’s bound for a smaller, Web-savvy operation, a would-be Huffington Post or Drudge Report where he can speak truth to power. In time, people like Ms. Schultz may have to turn to people like Clark Kent for a salary and health insurance – and, of course, a place to write and be heard.
We’ll let Ms. Schultz sound her barbed yawp to whatever slice of demographic continues to feast upon opinon columns in Parade. But if this writer really knew what she was talking about, she’d be begging Superman to pick her up and fly her away to whatever digital-publishing venue he hopes to build.
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