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I Love Lois

A journalist's thank you note

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June 19, 2013

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post on June 14, 2013.

By Michele Weldon

Forget the Man Of Steel. Krypton Shrypton. The Woman of Words is who I have always wanted to emulate. I love Lois Lane.

Sixty five years after the Daily Planet reporter was created for DC Comics, this latest $250 million movie iteration of Lois Lane is the only reason I would go see this building-burning, Metropolis-seizing Man of Steel. Amy Adams is the perfect 2013 version; she's the right combination of confident and competent without any sleaze.

It is likely because of Lois Lane that I do what I do.

On Saturdays in the '60s I watched The Adventures of Superman in black and white reruns on TV and was mesmerized by Lois Lane (played by the sassy Noel Niell) with her back talk and form-fitting, belted suits, most often with coordinating hats. She took no gruff from Clark Kent or the idiotic, snivelling Jimmy and stood up to Perry White, her editor boss. She was never overtly sexual or flirtacious, but always capable.

Apparently based on real journalist Nellie Bly, the Lois Lane character was the superhero I wanted to be. Forget Wonder Woman and her stupid underpants and headgear crown, I wanted to work in a newsroom on a real newspaper.

Lois was fantastic, but still I was perplexed as to why a woman of her intelligence couldn't discern that the guy with the glasses she worked with in the newsroom was the one in the men tights with the super powers "flying" over Metropolis. I mean at 6-years-old even I knew the flying was fake. The only difference between Clark and Superman is Clark is the mere mortal wearing glasses, a hat and a suit. They even talk the same. Exactly the same.

When every other girl I knew at St. Luke's School wanted to be Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie or at least look like Elly May Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies, I wanted to ask impertinent questions of strangers, rush out to breaking news stories and sit at a typewriter on deadline like Lois.

I had my own newspaper in 1968 when I was 10; and you cannot make this up, it was called The Juvenile Journal. My subscribers -- family, neighbors, my parents' friends -- paid 50 cents a year for the monthly newsletter of 4-6 pages. I paid not a dime for postage; my father mailed them from his office.

I inherited my publishing empire from my sister Madeleine, who at 14 was too cool to continue to type up family stories on carbon-backed paper, and copy them on the portable, jelly hectograph we kept in the upstairs den. When she abandoned her brainchild, I was thrilled to take the baton. I thought as editor and publisher I was better than Brenda Starr, the flame-haired comic strip journalist I read every Sunday in the newspaper four-color comics. Besides Brenda's eyes made of stars made her look like a bimbo.

Eventually I got tired of writing for a paper with the word "juvenile" in the title and I started writing teen features for the local newspaper at 13. I was paid $25 a story, gazillions more than my friends were earning for babysitting and changing diapers for like 1,000 hours.

After working on the high school language magazine, I went to journalism school at the Medill School at Northwestern University where I have been teaching for 17 years -- and where I was the features editor at the campus newspaper my junior year. After my masters, I worked at magazines and newspapers. Loved it all. Every story. Every byline. I still write for newspapers, magazines, digital sites and more. I teach more young women than men in my classes every quarter on the graduate and undergraduate levels and I am not sure any of the young women fancy they would be like Lois Lane as I did.

But I think they just might.

I am certainly no Lara Logan, (my real life journalist heroine) and I have been out of a daily newsroom for many years, but I have been writing as a freelancer for nearly a quarter of a century.

And yes, journalism is a much more chaotic profession than it was in the '50s and '60s when Lois typed stories for The Daily Planet. But I love what I do every day -- even if I don't wear the belted suits and matching hats.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane is different from her earlier version on screens large and small; she's not Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Dana Delaney, Kate Bosworth or Erica Durance. And she is different than the comic book and animated versions of the beloved reporter. But each reincarnation has its own delightful attributes. For me, the spiky-haired Lois in the animated tv show, Superman Unbound, is second only to Noel Niell's tv version.

In one cartoon episode, Lois stares at the giant Wizard of Oz-like head of Brainiac as he chastises her for the failings of humans. Her response? Silently, she flips him off.

How can you not love Lois Lane?

- Michele Weldon is an assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern University.

Topics: Opinion