The move popular business in most comic fans lives is that of newspaper publishing. Whether it is the Daily Planet of the DC world or the Daily Bugle of the Marvel world, the giant publishing companies stand tall in the world of both major comic book labels. Superman’s alter ego worked as a reporter while Spider-Man’s biggest thorn in his side ran the major New York newspaper.
Both of these series also presented two very popular fictional photographers that fans grew to love and admire.
In the pages of “Spider-Man," the superhero’s alter ego Peter Parker worked as a photographer for the Daily Bugle. The reason for his job there was simple. Parker needed to help his beloved Aunt May pay the bills once a burglar shot and killed his Uncle Ben. He realized that his work as Spider-Man was garnering media attention and set up a hidden automatic camera to snap pictures whenever he swung into action and then sold them to the Daily Bugle, a newspaper that worked to condemn the superhero as a criminal.
Now, in the real world of journalism, this sets up a difficult conundrum. When a journalist reports on a story that he has a connection with, the journalist is required to release his personal connection to the story as a way to set himself apart from the news. Since Parker was selling photos of himself as Spider-Man to the newspaper, but never told them he was Spider-Man, Parker was effectively breaking a major code of journalism ethics. The fact his editor, J. Jonah Jameson used the photos to condemn Spider-Man for his actions might make the controversy a little less damning for Parker.
On the other side of the spectrum, DC Comics introduced the Daily Planet to their readers in the pages of “Superman." Clark Kent and Lois Lane served as reporters for the paper and soon a third employee became just as popular and beloved in photographer Jimmy Olson. While Olson went on to be a full-fledged reporter after awhile, he remains mostly known as the photographer for the stories that Lois and Clark write.
Unlike Peter Parker, Olson is portrayed as a very ethical and hard working journalistic photographer. While he has often been referred to as Superman’s Pal, he retains a distance from the action and since he does not know that Clark is Superman, he does not cross the ethical lines that Peter Parker steps across daily. It is interesting that while Marvel shows their newspaper to be morally corrupt, DC paints theirs as a virtuous profession.