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Thursday, October 23, 2008 

MSMer writes sob-story

Scripps-Howard News Service runs a column where the writer seems to have a problem with how Supergirl #34 depicts the press negatively. First:
DC Comics has been touting its new direction and creative team for the Maid of Steel, beginning with "Supergirl" No. 34 ($2.99), out this month. And I have to say my first reaction was anger.

Not because of the creative team (Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle). It's too early to judge newcomer Gates, and Igle's familiar pencils (he's been around since about 2000) is more than welcome.

Nor is my anger because of the touted new direction. Lord knows "Supergirl" could use some kind of direction! Ever since DC last re-booted the character a few years back, the Last Daughter of Krypton has meandered all over the map, from rebellious teen to dutiful Super-helper to a stint in the 31st Century. This issue finally gives her a secret identity (I won't spoil it for you, but it's a clever idea), and anchors the character more closely to the other Super-books.

No, what cheesed me off was the opening sequence, where the venerable and prestigious "Daily Planet" runs a full-page, front-page opinion piece by the paper's gossip writer, complete with a six-column file photo. Leaving aside the file photo (no newspaper worth its salt settles for anything but fresh art on A-1), respectable newspapers DO NOT run opinion pieces on the front. They run news in the news section, and opinions in the opinion section. But, no, the gossip writer gets the entire front-page for a hatchet job on Supergirl, with veteran newshawks Clark Kent and Perry White meekly going along for the ride.
Actually, some newspapers can put opinion columns on the front page these days. Some French papers like Le Figaro and Le Monde often did that years ago, and may still do it today. The Jerusalem Post sometimes puts op-eds on the front page too, that begin there, and continue on later pages of the newspaper inside. Really nothing new there, and it's not exactly something I'd be bothered about.
If that sounds like nit-picking, call it the last scratch at a festering scab. I've been in newspapers for a quarter of a century, and most of the time the industry has been branded "biased" and "elitist" and worse. The press gets terrible press, and is one of the least trusted institutions in America (probably found between used-car salesmen and Congress).

And mostly it's unfair. Look, folks, our entire foundation is objectivity. We do not write slanted stories, or we get fired. We do not write hit pieces, and put them on A-1. We're just ordinary men and women who struggle hard to do a good job, for which we generally get a rap in the mouth.
No kidding. The same reporter who wrote this fawned over Identity Crisis 4 years ago in a sensationalistic tone, spluttering away and capping it off with a real dud line like, "love it or loathe it, "Identity Crisis" was truly an event," wouldn't even say a word about how the story's viewpoint was exclusively male, how Deathstroke punched Zatanna in the tummy, causing her to belch, or how Jean Loring invited her ex-hubby to hit her, which invokes a noxious stereotype, and now he's telling us what to think, and begging for mercy? Sorry, me no buy. And objectivity? My foot.

And what's this about an "entire foundation"? Sorry, but only a small percentage of it has any objectivity to offer. The rest, like CNN, New York Times, LA Times, and even the now defunct Knight-Ridder syndicate, are maddeningly dishonest.
And it's impressions in other media, like this opening scene in "Supergirl," that cements the negative impressions people have. I wish once, just once, an entertainment writer would write about us ink-stained wretches with a clue about how our industry really works.
In that case, why do people like that even want to read Spider-Man, where J. Jonah Jameson smears Spidey at almost every opportunity, even if it doesn't work in the end, or the New Teen Titans stories featuring Bethany Snow, who did whatever she could to undermine the team's battle against Brother Blood? Such media-based adversaries were and still are meant to reflect the mindset of the mainstream press, which is more dedicated to the cause of bad than that of good. It's often mystified me how news reporters sensitive to accusations of media bias could possibly remain reliable customers for Spidey or any other comic book that puts the press in a bad light.

I guess Scripps-Howard, like various other news syndicates, must be suffering badly, and they're jealous of the internet's success to boot. Well gee, if they were to really, and I mean REALLY be objective and informative, and not just offer face-value support for abhorrent books like Identity Crisis that don't even have any in depth descriptions of the going-ons that could help people determine whether it sounds good or not, then maybe their whining would be justified. Instead, it's just more silly, superficial jokes.

And it sounds more to me as though they don't wish to appreciate the Girl of Steel any more than the Daily Planet's Cat Grant does.

Update: Stars and Stripes, which published the column, also receieved a letter in response that counters it perfectly:
In "Can DC Comics do right by Supergirl?" (Captain Comics, Oct. 24) Andrew A. Smith complains that the latest issue of "Supergirl" [denigrated] journalism by depicting an unflattering "gossip" column that vilifies Supergirl on the front page of the Daily Planet newspaper.

Smith moans how this view is unfair and [although] the press is one of the "least trusted institutions in America," they, in fact, "do not write slanted stories" and "our entire foundation is objectivity."

Only fools or children trust the media. Mainstream American media have proven to be partisan, hypocritical, elitist, leftist and anti-American. The mainstream press defined yellow journalism by throwing integrity and objectivity to the wind and pursuing its pro-Obama agenda. They may still have a fig leaf of independence and objectivity, but most of them are openly campaigning for Barack Obama.

Gov. Sarah Palin was ignored in the vetting process during the run-up to McCain’s picking his running mate. [When] her nomination was announced, and the media realized she had confounded their predictions and was wildly popular among middle-class voters, they mobilized to eviscerate her reputation through character assassination and outrageous innuendo, all thinly disguised as "objective reporting." These attacks culminated in a New York Times front-page story trumpeting that she may have received $150,000 worth of clothes from the Republican National Committee for campaign purposes, which, even if true, wouldn’t be illegal. So, to the waif who says "We do not write hit pieces and put them on A-1," what was an unfounded allegation about Palin’s clothes doing on the front page?

All a free press has to recommend it is credibility, objectivity and integrity. Once the industry has forfeited that, it has lost the trust of its readership and the citizens it is supposed to speak for. Perhaps this explains why the Times’ credit rating was downgraded to "junk" status.

Sgt. Peter Cook
Forward Operating Base Falcon, Iraq
Sergeant, I salute you. You have explained perfectly, even better than I could, what's wrong with the MSM today.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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