Support 100 years of independent journalism.

24 October 2012

Superman vs the blogosphere

My money's on the blogosphere.

By Steve Baxter

Yes, Clark Kent, the humanoid alter ego of benign alien Christ-figure Kal-El, is leaving the inky empire of the Daily Planet to type away in the spare bedroom. 

I can understand Kent’s reasons for binning newsprint in favour of the electronic world. We’ve all been there, Mr Man (or may I call you Super?), working for a faceless and relatively evil corporation, hacking away at deadlines, crafting exquisitely delicate articles about Very Important Things, only to see them spiked in favour of some lightweight pap.

I feel your pain. You may be able to stop a speeding bullet, but you can’t seem to get a front-page lead for love nor money.

Superblogger’s arrival is a timely boost for the public perception of our craft. We’re all too easily stereotyped as tragic, forlorn figures frenziedly tapping out our little rants while softly weeping about our hopeless lives – so the arrival of a bona fide superhero in our ranks might up our profile a little.  

Maybe it says something about the parlous state of the industry that one of its leading fictional lights is swapping the press for the blogosphere. Will we be able to call the death of traditional journalism as the date that Superman decided to go it alone? Or is it just a plot point that will see Superman arguing with random strangers about semantics when he really ought to be solving crimes and saving the world? 

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

I warn you now, Clark, it’s not an easy business being a blogger. Sure, you think it’s probably a piece of cake compared with juggling your busy life as a crime-fighting superhero with finding scoops at the Daily Planet, but let me tell you: blogging is a proper full-time job.

Content from our partners
Transport is the core of levelling up
The forgotten crisis: How businesses can boost biodiversity
Small businesses can be the backbone of our national recovery

You’ve not experienced true heroism until you’ve fought off a swarm of angry commenters taking you to task over your latest blogpost. You’ve not known kryptonite, my friend, until you’ve written something about racism or the Middle East.

Don’t go thinking, either, Mr Man, that this is going to be some kind of liberating experience away from the newsroom. Far from it. If you’re going to be running your own blog, you’re going to have to forego the security blanket of sub-editors and proofreaders: from now on, every single word you write will come under scrutiny from the most bloodthirsty pedants in the galaxy.

One error in punctuation; one ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ and you might as well go and hide in the corner for the rest of the afternoon, rocking yourself to sleep as the tears roll down your face. Did they teach you about grammar Nazis on Krypton? I doubt it.

Poor Superman. You can just imagine him, in his unwashed costume, surrounded with takeaway cartons in a room only dimly lit by the glow of his battered laptop screen. He mutters: “I really should save those brave kittens from plummeting into the vat of boiling acid… But someone just called me a bad feminist for not being intersectional enough and they’re plain WRONG!”

I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, let alone a superhero.