The embattled world of print journalism has lost one of its most respected voices. In this month’s issue of Superman, crime reporter Clark Kent will leave his job at The Daily Planet, after growing more and more disgusted with the once-great newspaper’s slow drift into corporatized mediocrity and sensationalism. Superman writer Scott Lobdell tells USA Today that Clark has a Jerry Maguire moment, standing up in the middle of the Planet offices and complaining that the lofty journalistic standards of yesteryear have faded into an industry built on infotainment directed at the lowest common denominator. “This is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren’t really his own,” says Lobdell.
“Superman is arguably the most powerful person on the planet, but how long can he sit at his desk with someone breathing down his neck and treating him like the least important person in the world?” asks Lobdell rhetorically, and if you listen closely you can hear a chorus of unemployed 27-year-olds answering: “Wait, so he’s quitting in an era of mass unemployment because his boss doesn’t validate him often enough?” Kent will be joined in his exodus from print journalism by Cat Grant, blonde entertainment reporter and perpetual sixth place finisher in the neverending contest to win Clark Kent’s affections (after Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Wonder Woman, Lori Lemaris, and Lyla Lerrol.)
Part of Kent’s speech involves an emotional exhortation to his Planet colleagues to stand up for Truth, Justice, and “and yeah — I’m not ashamed to say it — the American way.” Lobdell explains that Kent won’t seek employment at another media conglomerate; instead, “He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report,” which I guess means he’s going to found a website called something like “The Kent Review” — built on aggregation, exactly as H.L. Mencken would have wanted.
“Clark come into his own in the next few years as far as being a guy who takes to the Internet and to the airwaves and starts speaking an unvarnished truth,” concludes Lobdell — “unvarnished,” that is, besides the rather particular brand of varnish Kent uses when he writes in the third person about the adventures of his costumed alter ego, which if you think about it makes Clark Kent one of history’s most successful propagandists. Anyhow, this sounds just like a David Simon show, unless Cat Grant does lots of pratfalls and can’t use e-mail and sleeps with her boss, in which case this sounds just like an Aaron Sorkin TV show.
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