Superman can change the course of mighty rivers, leap tall buildings in a single bound and outrun a locomotive. What can he do against the will and determination of a would-be Rupert Murdoch?
We can’t say for sure that ol’ Rupert has purchased the venerable “Daily Planet”, one of two long-running print publications in the world of comic-book superheroes (the other, of course, is Spider-Man’s “Daily Bugle”), but we have our suspicions. In an announcment about Superman posted earlier today, Superman’s publisher, DC Comics, tells us that “The Daily Planet is under new ownership, as the paper has been purchased by a global media conglomerate.”
Hmmmm. Who could that be? We’ve never really heard tell of a global media conglomerate in the DC “Universe” or even the world of rival Marvel. Most evil corporate behemoths come in the form of fictional entities like Lex Luthor’s Lexcorp or the corrupt oil concern Roxxon. (One company we’re certain is not under consideration is Time Warner, which owns DC and will be counting on Superman and other characters to drive revenue at the box-office.).
So we have to wonder if the writers responsible for Superman – about to undergo a major revamp in just a few weeks – looked for inspiriation in the real-life headlines of business news. Even before the phone-hacking imbroglio that currrently enveloped Mr. Murdoch and News Corp. gained the heady steam it has in recent weeks, the company was in the spotlight for purchasing and managing The Wall Street Journal. Barrels of ink have been spilt by hand-wringing media critics sweating and sobbing over whether Mr. Murdoch’s take-no-prisoners, short-but-sweet journalistic stylings would change the vaunted Journal for better or worse.
Such drama might make for a pleasant leitmotif in the pages of Superman. Not only would Clark Kent have to busy himself with filing stories for one of the few major metropolitan newspapers left standing tall (fictional or otherwise), but he might fret over whether the “global media conglomerate” might try to influence his coverage or spin his stories in a certain way.
He will also have to learn new skills. According to the DC dispatch, one-time Superman paramour Lois Lane (DC is rewriting things so the two are no longer married or even dating) is “the new boss of the Daily Planet’s TV and New media department.” Straight-arrow reporter Kent might feel pressure from Lane to dumb his stories down or, worse still, tart them up for the boob-tube or the Interwebs.
Clark Kent was never the kind of journo who pushed for Page One, but a reliable operative whose accuracy was never in question, and who often got lucky by being in the right place at the right time, He may not cotton to having a glitzy, world-spanning media company tinker with his workaday prose in the name of chasing sensationalism and profit.
If you listen closely, you might hear Mr. Murdoch -or whichever character might serve as his cipher in this Superman situation – cackle to himself.
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