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Thinking about Journalism with Superman
Unformatted Document Text:  Thinking about Journalism with Superman 18 the journalist Clark Kent is one of us. 105 He and his compatriots Lois Lane, Perry White, and Jimmy Olsen are as humbly human as we are, potentially pointing toward a more “humble journalism,” as James Carey called for nearly a quarter-century ago: “one partner with the rest of us—no more and no less.” 106 And whereas Schudson said that it is “not media power that disengages people but their belief in it, and the conviction of their own impotence in the face of it,” one can see via Clark and Superman a different model of heroism that can foster engagement and empowerment rather than the opposite. 107 Jay Rosen has asserted that Watergate and the movie All the President’s Men transformed the Washington Post‟s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into the equivalent of journalistic superheroes. That is consistent with Schudson‟s argument that Watergate represents “the central myth” of American journalism by offering the press “a charter, an inspiration, a reason for being large enough to justify the constitutional protections that journalism enjoys,” even if the truth was that “journalism in Watergate was generally lazy.” For Rosen, a major problem with the myth is that it ignores the role that the televised Watergate Senate hearings played in inviting the public to become invested in American politics. Instead, the myth implies that the press alone paved the path toward “national salvation: truth their only weapon, journalists save[d] the day.” 108 Rosen argues that today‟s journalists no longer can afford to imagine themselves as potential saviors of a citizenry in need of rescue. Instead they must acknowledge that power has shifted toward “the people formerly known as the audience” via interactive citizen-based media, and they should see that the journalist represents simply “a heightened case of an informed citizen” whose job it is to “describe the world in a way that helps people participate in it.” 109 Just as journalists are said to need to recognize their own limitations, Superman at times has seen the need to do the same. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, DC

Authors: Ehrlich, Matthew.
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Thinking about Journalism with Superman 18 
 
 
the journalist Clark Kent is one of us.
105
 He and his compatriots Lois Lane, Perry White, and 
Jimmy Olsen are as humbly human as we are, potentially pointing toward a more “humble 
journalism,” as James Carey called for nearly a quarter-century ago: “one partner with the rest of 
us—no more and no less.”
106
 And whereas Schudson said that it is “not media power that 
disengages people but their belief in it, and the conviction of their own impotence in the face of 
it,” one can see via Clark and Superman a different model of heroism that can foster engagement 
and empowerment rather than the opposite.
107
 
Jay Rosen has asserted that Watergate and the movie All the President’s Men transformed 
the Washington Post‟s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into the equivalent of journalistic 
superheroes. That is consistent with Schudson‟s argument that Watergate represents “the central 
myth” of American journalism by offering the press “a charter, an inspiration, a reason for being 
large enough to justify the constitutional protections that journalism enjoys,” even if the truth 
was that “journalism in Watergate was generally lazy.” For Rosen, a major problem with the 
myth is that it ignores the role that the televised Watergate Senate hearings played in inviting the 
public to become invested in American politics. Instead, the myth implies that the press alone 
paved the path toward “national salvation: truth their only weapon, journalists save[d] the 
day.”
108
 Rosen argues that today‟s journalists no longer can afford to imagine themselves as 
potential saviors of a citizenry in need of rescue. Instead they must acknowledge that power has 
shifted toward “the people formerly known as the audience” via interactive citizen-based media, 
and they should see that the journalist represents simply “a heightened case of an informed 
citizen” whose job it is to “describe the world in a way that helps people participate in it.”
109
 
Just as journalists are said to need to recognize their own limitations, Superman at times 
has seen the need to do the same. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, DC 


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