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What, exactly, does the Daily Planet report? How many times can you see the headline "Superman Saves City From Toyman" before you don't really feel the need to spend 50ยข to read it anymore? Would you subscribe to a morning paper to read about how Superman saved the city while you were at work? If crime, accidents, or even major weather events weren't an issue in your town, would you pick up a paper to read a columnist decrying local politicians or the state of your schools? No, I don't think so.

Look at the competitors: the New York Times has made a name for itself in the traditional way with slanted political bias. The Washington Post has picked up a reputation for investigative reporting. The Wall Street Journal thrives by reporting to the niche market with financial information. USA Today gets by with puff pieces and 4-color printing, becoming the "comic book" of the news world. And my small city paper, the Newnan Times-Herald, tries to appeal to the disparate interests of the local community, yesterday selling a schizophrenic edition with two headlines: "County Passes Tighter Obscenity Ordinance" side-by-side with "Micro Wrestlers: 'They're Amazingly Funny, Who Doesn't Like Midgets?'"

Seems to me that if I were Perry White, I'd have to find some new directions for news reporting. It's hard enough for newspapers to survive in the modern television/internet age in a region where there is actually news to report, much less in crime-free Metropolis. Face it, if there's not some major alien invasion or other Justice League emergency ("Brainiac Renovates City Hall - WIth BLOOD!"), the Planet may as well be an Associated Press outpost with a light sprinkling of boring local interest stories ("Super-Ventriloquism and Other Forgotten Powers of Superman") and sports columns ("Metropolis Monarchs Beat Gotham Knights in World's Finest Series"). I suspect that the solution is tabloid journalism: report on the sex life of politicians and other powerful figures in town. ("Lex Luthor Loves the Ladies; Metropolis Madam Speaks Out!") Or make outrageous claims about the foibles of of celebrities. ("Bruce Wayne in Rehab for Addiction to Domestic Violence?"). That always seems to sell well.

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To be continued...

 

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