NEW YORK — Clark Kent isn’t the only superhero to quit his newspaper job.
I know quite a few men – and women – of steel who’ve packed it in. And I am certain that since these great reporters stopped outrunning trains on deadline and leaping tall buildings in a single bound, there are a lot more bad guys operating in the shadows of the city as a result.
So I guess the breaking news that Kent quit the Daily Planet shouldn’t really surprise us. Let me guess what’s next. Jimmy Olsen goes to middle management. And Lois Lane takes the buyout. But here at GlobalPost we want to invite Kent, and Lane if she decides to exit the smart way, to send in a resume and a cover letter. We’re growing in leaps and bounds, to borrow a phrase, here at GlobalPost and we think we do the kind of journalism they used to be able to do back in the good days at the Daily Planet.
So why did the mild-mannered reporter and alter ego for Superman suddenly quit? Turns out he had enough of the dramatic decline in the state of journalism and he’d been berated one too many times by Morgan Edge, the hostile tycoon who heads up the Daily Planet’s parent company.
And so in the latest issue of DC Comics’ “Superman,” which hit newsstands here in New York on Wednesday, Kent officially and dramatically quits in front of the entire newspaper staff, offering a high-minded diatribe about declining values, a loss of ethics, too much coverage of sex and scandal and a disappointment that opinion has replaced facts as the currency of the newsroom.
In the comic, Kent tells his colleagues in an outburst, "I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers — that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun … But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can't be the only one who's sick of what passes for the news today."
And so ends the reporting career of an American icon who has been around since 1938 when the comic first launched amid the Great Depression. Remember, Superman, at least in his original creation, was a social activist influenced by FDR. He heroically went after corrupt bankers and corporate tycoons and slumlords.
If Kent was reading GlobalPost, he would have seen the impressive and ambitious project we launched this week titled "America The Gutted." Led by Editor Thomas Mucha, this project pulled together our global team of correspondents, videographers, editors and producers to address one of the biggest issues of the day, the declining middle class in America and what it means for the world. It’s a big story and one that we will be staying on as we plan next month to step up our team coverage of the growing divide between the rich and the poor all over the planet.
Or, maybe he has read the Special Report titled "Worked Over," on the undercutting of labor rights around the world. Or maybe he has read our Special Reports on the proliferation of drones, the melting Arctic and the role of women in the revolution in Egypt. All of these are big stories that are right up Kent’s alley, and we have a lot more work to do here at GlobalPost.
I can’t say I blame Kent for packing it in at the old Daily Planet, as these are tough days in the newspaper business. It definitely ain’t what it used to be.
As a fellow newspaperman who left the business just over four years ago, I should warn Kent that he will definitely miss the camaraderie and the characters of a print newsroom. He’ll miss the experienced hand of a great editor. He will miss the resonant thud of the rolls of paper arriving on the loading docks for the big Sunday print run, the rumble of the presses and the idling of the trucks in the pre-dawn before they head out to deliver the news to a waking city. Most of all, he’ll miss the great sense of purpose and mission that thrived at the best of the big city dailies.
I worked as a reporter in newspapers for the better part of 25 years before co-founding GlobalPost in 2008. That quarter century included stints at the Bergen Record, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and The Boston Globe. I loved every minute of the job and truly feel lucky to have been part of the tradition.
As lore has it, the New York Daily News was even the muse for the Daily Planet. (Some say it was also the Old Toronto Star Building, but in the 1970s versions of Superman, the Daily News building at 42nd Street and Second Avenue, was the stage set. There was even a wooden phone booth and a large art deco planet, just like in the comic strip, that spun uneasily on its axis right there in the lobby.)
So now it’s over. And Kent joins that long list of fading super heroes who have left what used to feel like one of the greatest jobs in the world.
But Kent should also know there is an exciting future in the digital age and that this is a time of great opportunity and innovation in journalism. There are definitely still a lot of big, important issues and a lot of bad guys out there to go after.
In fact, all over the world, greedy corporate types seem to be more emboldened than ever, and as you can read and see so poignantly in "America the Gutted," a lot of people feel uncertain about their future and don’t know how they’ll get by. So, Kent, if you are reading this (and we trust that you are, since you are not only omniscient but hip in your own way, or at least hip enough to have brought back a whole fad of black, horn-rimmed glasses) and you need a job, we hope you’ll send a resume our way.
We could use a Man of Steel. And the same goes for Lane. She was always a more gifted story teller, I thought, without all the bravado, the leaping tall buildings and the cape.
So Clark Kent, Lois Lane and anyone else interested in working with GlobalPost can send their resume to us here.