From the days of the town crier, to the advent of the newspaper and on to radio, television and the Internet, the basic principle of journalism has been the same: ALWAYS GET THE SCOOP ON THE COMPETITION. Oh, and if you have time, do some fact-checking. Or you can save time and ensure your position on the cutting edge if you simply decide what the news will be, exaggerate or just plain make things up to increase your readership or use your platform to bring public perception in line with your opinion.
Journalists play a major role in many of the fictional worlds we nerds enjoy. They can reveal the truth, suppress the truth, or craft it to their own purposes. They can be heroes and villains in their own right. The can also be taken hostage several million times, just for hanging out with the heroes. The point is, whether they use their powers for good or ill, the play a large part in defining the nerdy worlds they inhabit. Here, in no particular order — especially not their morality or their talent — are the nine biggest journalists in nerd-dom.
9) April O’Neil, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ace reporter April O’Neil doesn’t let anything get in the way of a good story, including the extreme likelihood of her eventual kidnapping by the Foot (or whoever she might be investigating). Not to worry, though, because the Turtles are always there to get her out of trouble just in time. It happens so regularly that Donatello once remarked that they could set their watches by it (if they wore watches, of course). Despite all of that, she’s good at her job and does her best to give the Turtles the credit they deserved for fighting crime and making the city a safer place.
8) Rita Skeeter, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Descending upon Hogwarts to cover the Triwizard Tournament for the Daily Prophet, Skeeter immediately recognizes Harry Potter as the real story in the situation, being the unanticipated fourth champion, the youngest champion, and well, being Harry Potter. When Harry refuses to play ball with Skeeter’s attempts to make himself the center of the wizarding world’s attention, she instead paints him and his friends as dramatic characters in her own tabloid style. As the tournament progresses, Skeeter somehow becomes privy to all sorts of personal information about Harry and the other Triwizard Champions. Hermione deduces that Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus, and uses this information to blackmail her into publishing the truth about Voldemort’s return.
7) William de Worde, Discworld
Basically the founder of Ankh-Morpork’s first newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times, this venture evolved from William’s small newsletters, which he made by gathering up interesting tidbits of information, commissioning a woodcut to make several copies, and distributing them to various members of the nobility. In The Truth, the technological advancement that would catapult William’s paltry newsletter into a full-fledged newspaper literally hits him in the face. A collision with the dwarf Gunilla Goodmountain’s printing press leads the two to begin printing a proper newspaper, with William as senior editor and head reporter. His scrupulously honest reporting uncovers a plot to remove Lord Vetinari as the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.
6) Carl Kolchak, Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Carl Kolchak follows stories that aren’t your typical news fare – far more interesting, actually, despite the fact that they’re unbelievable. It’s not that Kolchak really seeks these kinds of stories out, it just seems that behind every murder or break-in he investigates, there’s something supernatural behind it. Kolchak’s grubby white tennis shoes and yellow Ford Mustang get a lot of mileage as he tracks down his latest impossible criminal — whether it’s Jack the Ripper, an ancient vampire or a thousand-year-old mummy. Unfortunately, the conclusion of every case somehow leads to the utter destruction of any physical evidence for Kolchak’s story, so at best he’s seen as somewhat as an eccentric by his editor and colleagues.
5) Tintin, The Adventures of Tintin
The title character of one of the most popular comics in European history, Tintin, along with his faithful pal Snowy, is able to get himself involved in highly dangerous situations in the course of his work as an investigative journalist. Not to worry, though – Tintin is usually able to save the day in a remarkably heroic fashion, although readers are more likely to see him using his Boy Scout skills and ideals to get the bad guys more often than they see him actually turn in a finished story. Tintin has many friends and acquaintances that allow him to be the hero: along with Snowy, his fox terrier, there’s also Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus, and the idiotic detectives Thompson and Thompson.
4) J. Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man
A perfect example of a journalist letting his personal agenda set the narrative of the Daily Bugle, Jameson’s underlings have likely reached the point where they prepare retractions at the same time they write their articles. ‘Ol JJJ’s obsession with painting Spider-Man as an unstable vigilante bent on some secretive villainous agenda. This is unfortunate, because despite his blind spot where the web-slinging hero of New York is concerned, Jameson is actually a good journalist. His work in his younger days against organized crime and for civil rights left him with a jaded, cynical eye and the belief that if something is too good to be true, it often is. His feelings about Spider-Man aside, his trademark cigar and bombastic, arrogant management style make him absolutely hilarious.
3) Sarah Jane Smith, Doctor Who
Introduces as a companion to the Third Doctor, continuing with the Fourth Doctor and appearing occasionally with further re-generations, Sarah Jane’s curiosity and drive to investigate a top-secret research facility led her to stow away on the TARDIS. After she and the Doctor hit it off, she divided her time between accompanying him on several adventures, as well as assisting UNIT with some vital missions. In her time with the Doctor, Sarah Jane has come up against Cybermen and Daleks, and had plenty to do in her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, for which her adventures through space and time had well-prepared her. Unfortunately, Elisabeth Sladen’s illness prevented her character from continuing her adventures, and her death in April 2011 marked the end of one of the Doctor’s most beloved companions.
2) Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan
Clearly modeled after gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Spider Jerusalem shares his inspiration’s predilection for drug use, love of firearms, and constant search for The Truth. Armed with his stereoscopic glasses and his Bowel Disrupter, Spider fights authority figures who abuse the system, the rest of the media who allow the system to work and the unthinking public who enable the system in the first place. He is not above physically beating a member of any three groups to get The Truth out there. His finest work was likely his article on the election of the Nixonian president nicknamed “The Beast,” which was nothing but the word “fuck” repeated 8,000 times.
1) Lois Lane, Superman
Ace reporter for The Daily Planet, Lois Lane is a competent, driven journalist willing to put her own safety on the line to get every detail of the story she’s on. Lots of those stories happen to revolve around Superman, which is where her amazing powers of observation somehow fail her: Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, also works at The Daily Planet, just a cubicle or two away. In spite of the fact that her penchant for details is defeated by a pair of eyeglasses, Lois in her latest incarnations is not the kind of love-interest that constantly needs to be rescued (although that does happen on occasion).