Monetizing online journalism: Now, a job for Superman – The Star-Ledger


In the new issue of Superman (No. 13), the Man of Steel’s alter-ego becomes disillusioned with the face of modern journalism.

Et tu, Superman?

As if print media didn’t have enough problems, now we’re losing a guy with the power to squeeze coal into diamonds and punch a hole in the moon. That can’t be good for circulation.

If you haven’t heard, Clark Kent is leaving his job as a reporter at the venerable Daily Planet of Metropolis.

Apparently Mr. Kent is frustrated with the direction of the mainstream media toward infotainment, so he’s made the decision to jump headfirst into that bastion of substance and civility we know as the internet.


How does one monetize online content? This looks like a job for Superman.

First, a little background on how we got to this point. About a year ago, DC Comics — publisher of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, among many others — decided to wipe the slate clean. Like an 8-year-old who just struck out in kickball, the writers shouted “Do over!” and erased 70 years of continuity, more or less.

That seismic shift in the DC Universe is what made it possible for Superman writer and longtime comics veteran Scott Lobdell to give Clark his “Jerry Maguire” moment in which he walks out of his city’s largest newspaper.

According to Lobdell, the move away from the Planet in this week’s “Superman” issue No. 13 is an effort to spend more story time on Superman’s exploits and less on covering city council meetings and sitting behind a desk to report.

Still, the Clark Kent who is leaving the contemporary newspaper business to start another blog that can’t make money is not the Clark Kent of yore. He’s no longer an award-winning reporter in his 30s, happily married to his sweetheart Lois Lane and saving the world on the weekend.

The new Clark Kent is an orphaned 20-something living in a tiny apartment and shuffling around the streets of Metropolis in a rumpled flannel shirt and horn-rimmed glasses. Add ironic facial hair and a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and you could easily confuse him with 90 percent of the residents of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Superman’s alter ego is a hipster.

While most recent college grads would be happy to have any job that didn’t involve frothing soy milk and fetching scones, young Clark has decided the mainstream media are far too frivolous and the internet is where real journalism is taking place.

In Clark’s comic book reality, newspapers — when not full of fluff — are merely the mouthpieces for corporate interests, and the web is where journalists break news. Either this is some elaborate story arc involving Superman’s block-headed doppleganger Bizarro or Clark has never heard of Gawker.

If Kent makes the leap into the blogosphere, it’s only a matter of time before he’s writing about Lindsay Lohan and posting twitpics of his lunch. CONNECTED 24/7

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Only in the funny pages could a mild-mannered reporter expect to wade into the swirling morass of anonymous negativity that is the internet and expect to find an audience. Where exactly will Clark find the capital to finance a tech start-up? Sure, he could borrow the cash from Batman, but that guy’s a real jerk when it comes to interest rates.

Superman may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but can he figure out how to make a living under Google’s ad structure? It should be noted that Superman doesn’t need to eat and drink like us mere mortals.

He gets his nourishment from the rays of Earth’s yellow sun — something he’s going to see a lot less of now that he’s blogging.

And, Clark, it’ll be hard to find time to save the world when there are videos of cats playing the piano that need to be posted and shared on Facebook.

Drew Sheneman writes a comics column and draws editorial cartoons for The Star-Ledger.


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