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Reporting Matt Murdock’s Double Life - The Image of the Journalist in Marvel Comics’ Daredevil

O’Daniel, Robby
Committee Members: 
Dr. Paul Ashdown
May 2012

Abstract: Popular entertainments often provide the general public with a construct for who a journalist is and what the work of a journalist entails. It is important to study journalists in the popular culture to understand how the idea of the journalist is conceived by those who do not go to newsrooms and do not have first-hand experience with how journalists work. In order to do their jobs, journalists must regularly interact with the public at large, gathering facts, coordinating appointments, interviewing and so on. If these people have a negative image of the journalist, it would be helpful for journalists to understand how and where that image might come from, in order to better communicate with the public at large and have greater ease in doing their jobs.

Comic books, in particular, have received little academic interest. Yet in comic books like Daredevil, created by writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, a supporting character – seasoned investigative journalist Ben Urich – is among the cast of characters, and throughout the narrative, characters interact with journalists and journalism.

This thesis uses textual analysis to look at what kind of categories journalists and journalism are placed in throughout the pages of various Daredevil comics from the beginning of the series in 1964 to the present. The study found that widely conflicting depictions of journalists exist in the pages of Daredevil comics. Journalists are mostly portrayed as negative, yet many characters rely on journalism daily for major information and entertainment. Urich is portrayed as an excellent journalist by others, but at times, he acts like a reporting novice.