I wore the hat you see in the picture during the Arizona summer of my last year as a TV reporter. While other broadcast journalists found ways to remain fashionable behind the scenes in 115 degrees, I figured all that mattered is I cleared my face of sweat and redness before going on air. The hat combined with slacks and a dress shirt likely looked ridiculous. But some people labeled me with a nickname playing off Indiana Jones. The name did not offend me. It made the newsroom laugh. The nickname was in good fun and the hat was the closest I came to dressing as a hero while working as a journalist.
Last night I watched the movie The Green Hornet, a character I was mostly unfamiliar with before seeing the film. The Green Hornet is the son of a newspaper publisher. The next day, while Loren and I analyzed the realism of this fine film, something struck me: The Green Hornet is the son of a newspaper publisher. Superman is a newspaper reporter. Spider-Man is a newspaper photographer. Is this simply a coincidence?
I’ve heard references to reporters who can fly, but that was flying in the form of a vulture. No one ever called me a superhero. Have I not considered the connection between the media and super masked men? A former Chicago newsroom assignment editor explained to me the connection with super characters is not a coincidence. He boasts a big comic book collection and describes himself as a big time Superman geek.
“Because how better to know where crime and criminals are then to be working for the place that reports in that stuff,” he texted me. “All great superheroes either work for a media outlet or they’re filthy rich billionaires. See Batman, Green Arrow or Iron Man.”
I’m not clear if some superheroes are actually passionate about journalism or simply see it as a convenient career to gather the latest crime reports.
“My guess would be the latter,” texted the former Windy City newsman.
In today’s world, superheroes wouldn’t need to report the news. Technology makes the news so accessible, you would only need a super smartphone with a few, strategic apps. And the last thing today’s TV newsrooms need is a bunch of egomaniacs wearing capes and masks. Plus many TV journalists would purposely let their secret slip out on Twitter. But I wouldn’t have minded a co-worker with some super powers for all those days I worked my cape off and watched it all disappear due to a broken down live truck. My Indiana hat never helped with that.