“War Against Crime”
Superman Daily Newspaper Strip - January 30, 1939 to February 18, 1939
Why a newspaper reporter? It’s a question which Superman writers have had to address time and again - the matter of why Superman would want (or even need) a secret identity is a matter for deeper discussion, but why specifically a newspaper reporter?
Obviously, the field of newspaper journalism has been suffering over the last few decades, with new media and new avenues of information making the daily paper less and less relevant - Even Superman’s writers have had to find new outlets for Clark Kent to report the news, from television to cable to the blogosphere.
In the 1930s, however, the newspaper industry was still vital - almost every great American writer up to that point had put in their time as newspapermen and high-circulation local newspapers moved industry and politics in major American cities. In short the public perception of a reporter (particularly a “crusading reporter”) was still one of risk, daring and romance. It was a tough guy’s job, Clark Kent’s feeble meekness notwithstanding.
Typically, Clark Kent chooses to become a reporter in order to keep on top of the latest, breaking news - better to slip away as Superman and save the day! For the vast majority of his existence he gets the job by merely barging into the Daily Planet offices, promising a scoop (almost always on his own alter ego) and finding himself hired without any prior credentials or experience. Later scenarios - including the 1978 motion picture and many of the later television series - take pains to give Clark Kent a little journalistic experience in his youth, and more recent iterations have chosen to focus on Clark Kent as a writer and a book lover, drawn to the written word and social causes typically celebrated in print.
In this, the second story arc of the daily newspaper strip, Superman comes to the very logical decision to adopt a dual identity in journalism after having failed to save the lives of several bank employees locked in a vault - he rescues most in time, but the others suffocated in the nearly airless chamber. Deciding that keeping on top of breaking news would prevent future tragedies and make him more effective as a champion of the helpless, he resolves there and then to embark on a newspaper career …