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Thinking about Journalism with Superman
Unformatted Document Text:  Thinking about Journalism with Superman 11 as a positive role model for journalists. Feminist scholars have argued that empathetic and engaged reporting is far preferable to “masculinist” news that purports to be objective and detached and that largely reproduces “truths” serving the interests of power and patriarchy. 63 Just as in the real world, though, such a progressive model of journalism is not easily realized in Smallville. By the time the series left the air, Chloe Sullivan had departed the news business altogether to work alongside her superhero husband the “Green Arrow” and raise their young son. Meanwhile, Lois Lane was relegated to chasing after the bomb scare of the moment for the Daily Planet, her planned marriage to Clark Kent forever on hold. 64 Superman and Justice In early comic strips, Superman was labeled the “champion of the oppressed,” in keeping with what Jerry Siegel described as the “tremendous feeling of compassion that Joe [Shuster] and I had for the downtrodden.” 65 Superman thus “evinced and reaffirmed the spirit of New Deal politics, with its ideals of social justice,” while opposing “political and urban corruption” (for example, the 1938 debut showed him thwarting a nefarious attempt by munitions manufacturers and crooked politicians to pull America into war). 66 Such a devotion to justice is again in keeping with the highest principles of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics says journalists should give “voice to the voiceless” and be “vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.” 67 In a similar vein, the editors of a historical anthology of muckraking journalism assert that whatever the press‟s shortcomings, it also has told numerous stories that have “contribute[d] to change, the kind of change, in the American reform tradition, that we believe makes America a better place.” 68 However, Superman‟s commitment to the oppressed began to lessen soon after his creation. According to one scholar, by the end of 1940, he had been “transformed into a symbol

Authors: Ehrlich, Matthew.
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Thinking about Journalism with Superman 11 
 
 
as a positive role model for journalists. Feminist scholars have argued that empathetic and 
engaged reporting is far preferable to “masculinist” news that purports to be objective and 
detached and that largely reproduces “truths” serving the interests of power and patriarchy.
63
 
Just as in the real world, though, such a progressive model of journalism is not easily 
realized in Smallville. By the time the series left the air, Chloe Sullivan had departed the news 
business altogether to work alongside her superhero husband the “Green Arrow” and raise their 
young son. Meanwhile, Lois Lane was relegated to chasing after the bomb scare of the moment 
for the Daily Planet, her planned marriage to Clark Kent forever on hold.
64
 
Superman and Justice 
 
In early comic strips, Superman was labeled the “champion of the oppressed,” in keeping 
with what Jerry Siegel described as the “tremendous feeling of compassion that Joe [Shuster] and 
I had for the downtrodden.”
65
 Superman thus “evinced and reaffirmed the spirit of New Deal 
politics, with its ideals of social justice,” while opposing “political and urban corruption” (for 
example, the 1938 debut showed him thwarting a nefarious attempt by munitions manufacturers 
and crooked politicians to pull America into war).
66
 Such a devotion to justice is again in 
keeping with the highest principles of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists Code 
of Ethics says journalists should give “voice to the voiceless” and be “vigilant and courageous 
about holding those with power accountable.”
67
 In a similar vein, the editors of a historical 
anthology of muckraking journalism assert that whatever the press‟s shortcomings, it also has 
told numerous stories that have “contribute[d] to change, the kind of change, in the American 
reform tradition, that we believe makes America a better place.”
68
 
 
However, Superman‟s commitment to the oppressed began to lessen soon after his 
creation. According to one scholar, by the end of 1940, he had been “transformed into a symbol 


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