Perhaps he can still leap tall buildings in a single bound. But the slow, tortuous drowning of traditional print journalism by new online media has, at least for now, humbled even Superman, the iconic American comic-book superhero.
In DC Entertainment’s latest issue of the Superman comic, the superhero’s mild-mannered alter-ego, journalist Clark Kent, laments the state of the news business today and announces in front of the staff of the Daily Planet, his fictitious newspaper employer, that he is quitting.
“In Superman #13, Clark Kent, after a heated discussion with Morgan Edge (the owner of The Daily Planet’s parent company, Galaxy Broadcasting), leaves his position as a reporter at The Daily Planet,” a spokesman for DC Entertainment told RIA Novosti.
“This is not the first time in DC Comics history that Clark Kent has left the Planet, and this time the resignation reflects present-day issues – the balance of journalism vs. entertainment, the role of new media, the rise of the citizen journalist, etc.,” the spokesman said.
US media were abuzz Tuesday with news of the career crisis for Superman’s alter-ego, a major shift in the basic character profile of the comic-book hero who was created in 1932 and who has long been cast as a paragon of stability and traditional moral virtue.
But the people behind the new, soul-searching Superman say the metamorphosis was needed to bring Superman into the 21st century with its flourishing new media technologies – and attendant job uncertainties.
"I don't think he's going to be filling out an application anywhere," the new Superman writer, Scott Lobdell, told USA Today in an interview.
"He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from," he added, referring to two of the most highly-viewed news websites in North America.
"This is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren't really his own," Lobdell added.