Earlier last week we had the opportunity to talk with the hottest new geek reporter in town, The Daily Superhero. Responsible for the recent deluge of scoops from set of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, TDSH has quickly become one of the most cited journalists for Marvel movie news (which you’ve probably seen on Unleash The Fanboy’s homepage from time to time). He splits most of his work load between his own website, DailySuperHero.com, and a column for the big boys at ComicBookMovie.com. Well, he carved out a block of free time (which is usually devoted to more precious activities, like resting!) and spoke with us about his origins, his current fame, and his plans for the future.
UTF: I know you value your anonymity, so I want ask too many revealing questions. Although, as the geek world knows you as “TheDailySuperHero”, a scoop finding journalist who rights for DailySuperHero.com, I’d really like to know how you got started in the web news game? Are you a trained journalist? If so, what type of achievements or accolades can you discuss?
To start, thanks for taking the time for asking some questions. Being the new guy on the block in the superhero movie news biz, I appreciate the recognition. Regarding anonymity, it’s not so much about valuing it as much as it is about building a brand. Anyone can take a few minutes on Google to find out who I really am but I wanted to build a brand in a way that is similar to Tony Stark and Iron Man or how Chris Hardwick and the Nerdist are one in the same. The Daily SuperHero and I are also one in the same.
I got started in the news game through my time in college. Initially, I went to college to get a bachelors in film/digital media. Then after a two years, I realized I really liked writing and reporting so I added a second bachelors degree in journalism to my course work and graduated in 4 ½ years, just missing graduating with honors by a .01 G.P.A. Literally. It still stings.
I’ve been trained in both print, digital reporting (yes there’s a difference in those writing styles, just like how English writing is different too) along with being an on location field reporter. While still in college, I actually was hired on by BleacherReport.com, in 2007, as a writer/reporter and quickly rose through the ranks in just a few months time to become the NFL editor’s No. 2 as the featured content coordinator and assignment desk editor in charge of all beat writer content for the entire 32-team league. Getting back to your question, my NFL reporting career was a big learning experience and I burned some bridges, eventually plateauing my career opportunities. So I started my own football website. After 22 months with my own football site, I made enough of a mark where I was able to move on from it.
UTF: It seems strange for someone so well trained to be drawn to the geek news world, which is littered with amateurs (just meaning those not trained at a professional level). When and why did you decide to create DailySuperhero.com?
Before moving on from my NFL website, I started a superhero movie news website called SuperHero Authority, in January 2012. Business partners and I wanted to expand our online football website into a network of sites at that time. One thing led to another with SuperHero Authority and I branched out on my own, realizing I needed a better branding name. Something where it was generic enough of a branding to not infringe on trademarks or copyrights but still memorable and The Daily SuperHero was born as a play on The Daily Bugle and The Daily Planet. I also saw a need for more reporters in the superhero movie reporting world—compared to the overflow of everyone who wants to report on football in the sports news biz. And where there is a need, there’s usually plenty of opportunity.
Regarding my inner geek, I’ve always been a huge fan of Star Wars and I vaguely remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater (yup, I’m older than you probably thought). I got into Marvel comics during my pre-teen years in the late-80s. Despite growing up and living in Superman’s birthplace in Cleveland, I’m honestly not a big Supes or DC superhero fan but I still enjoy DC’s characters. I’m just a novice when it comes to knowing the DC comic book cannon.
UTF: If I’m not mistaken, you wrote exclusively for DailySuperHero.com (even though it was an aggregate site) for a while, but you’ve since expanded your brand to ComicBookMovie.com , sharing with them your scoops. A lot of scoopsters would have hogged the information on their own site. Why did you choose this route?
Yes I did start with my own site which was pretty much an aggregator and still is to a point. The most simplistic reason behind my move to publishing my news and scoops on CBM is because of the hardest thing to do online by any blogger, individual website owner and/or online business person and that’s monetization opportunity. CBM’s built-in readership also allows my news and scoops the most exposure, compared to my own site and I’ve built a solid rapport with CBM’s founder which is why I moved into a featured writer role quickly, along with the fact Cap 2 was filming in my backyard too.
However, I would like to clarify I’m not in journalism for the money… I’m in it because I love to write and report. Why else would I be in debt tens of thousands of dollars with student loans if I didn’t love being in the reporting biz? The money is the bonus of doing what I truly enjoy.
UTF: Speaking of which, it seems that you’ve really started to get on a roll right when filming for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER began in Ohio. Is that right?
FOR SURE! I was very happy to have Marvel Studios come back to Cleveland for Cap 2—they were also here in 2011 to film The Avengers but I was still in in the sports world and hadn’t jumping into the superhero movie world at that time. I used Cap 2 as a chance to help build my brand as a legit superhero movie news reporter. By the way, here’s a little something-something to get excited about, I’ve heard some whispers in the rumor mill winds that Marvel Studios may come back to Cleveland for a future Phase 3 movie!
UTF: I understand you live in the area, and you visit the filming locations regularly to try and score scoops. Is that type of field work more rewarding than simply regurgitating news, as so many geek sites do?
I love on location and field reporting since my days covering football training camp and practices. It has been able to easily transition over to on location set reporting as well. Being in the trenches is what makes the real reporters stand out from the behind-the-desk aggregator writers online (no offense to aggregator reporters because it is also a needed position in online news and even I do it too). Plus, who doesn’t want to be near a movie set and talk to production people to dig for information about what was being filmed in a particular scene? It’s the biggest challenge of being a reporter and I especially welcome those type of challenges.
UTF: How exactly do you get pics/scoops from set? I imagine there’s a lot of security, so do you have to hide in the bushes while snapping a few photos. Or is there a simple “do not cross” barrier behind which you can happily shoot away?
I will not divulge secrets when it comes to my methods (evil laugh here) but it’s all about talking to people, emailing, phones calls and educated/logical guesses that can be confirmed. I will say the big misconception by many is that production crews are evil when it comes to the press. The truth is as long as press is outside of the “invisible barricade line” created by crews, then there’s nothing illegal being done by writing down scene observation notes and taking photos/videos.
You do need a camera with some form of zoom on it too, since the barricade line was an average of a block away from the action on the set most times. Plus, if you know people in surrounding buildings and gain legal access to be inside of a building to take photos out the windows, the only thing a production company can tell you to do is ask you to leave the building if that building didn’t sign a contract with Marvel to be in a movie. When filming in the public, there are no laws against taking photos. Many who disagree should get familiar with the Freedom of the Press laws and during Cap 2, Marvel Studios respected the press with a tremendous amount of courtesy.
UTF: I’m really excited by the concept of old-school journalism… or at least what I’ve seen in noir films. Do you have any good “detective work” stories regarding any particular scoops you’ve heard? You know: following lead after lead after lead, and then finally catching something huge.
Right now, I do not have anything super exciting to share but I was able to locate one of Marvel’s hidden Cap 2 locations at Cleveland State University. I took the initiative to drive around the downtown area to look for, what I knew at the time, was other hidden locations. When I found this particular unknown location, which wasn’t hard when you see all the production trucks lined up on the streets, I talked to a Cleveland State security guard to gather info about where and what was happening on campus. While being observant, I saw (and took a photo) of a prop box labeled “Rumlow” at this location as well. I was also able to deduce, based on street closures listed in the Cleveland area, the production was also filming at the Cleveland Museum of Art. A museum rep confirmed it when I called them. These may not be exciting but it shows that thinking outside of the box will uncover clues that may lead to bigger things.
UTF: With all of your news, have you become Marvel’s #1 Most Wanted? Have you heard anything from them?
Hahaha. Heck no. I have too much respect for Marvel to be on their Most Wanted list. If I may rephrase your question I would say, “Have you made enough of an impact with your Captain America 2 coverage to now be noticed by Marvel?” I would answer yes to this question.
When Cap 2 first starting filming in Cleveland, I gained legal press access to the 10th floor of a building. After being in my photo sniper spot to take some pictures for not even 15 minutes, I heard a knock on the door in the empty conference room I was in. It was the head of Marvel’s Cap 2 security. He found me and all I could do was smile and laugh when I saw him. He laughed too and requested that I respectfully leave the room I gained legal access to. Out of my respect for Marvel I agreed while he respected my decision to remove myself from the 10th floor. He was also impressed with my initiative to access the location I was at. He called Marvel and gave them my name and that I wrote for ComicBookMovie.com so now I’m on file with them! Recently, I also had Marvel request set photos be pulled off of one of my CBM Cap 2 posts just last week which is both a telling sign that Marvel is watching my work and those set photos were the real deal in Cap 2. I take all of this as Marvel’s way of complimenting my journalism work.
UTF: Your assertions and scoops have a great track record. How thoroughly do you vet your sources?
Bottom line is that no one is perfect when it comes to scoops. Some are wrong a lot but most of the time there is a balance of some right and a few wrong scoops with even the biggest sites like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline. I want to be transparent with my scoops which is why I have a link for my own “Scoop Tracker” page at the bottom of my website. This shows what has been confirmed, debunked and to be determined for my work. As far as ensuring sources are accurate, if I’m not sure of the source I will label a post as a rumor or theory first. Then, if it becomes truth down the road my trust in the source will increase.
Anyone can email me info through my site so it’s important to not take all of them as 100 percent legit and as truth or I’ll get burned. The end result to this is I start to lose credibility. This is something that every reporter should never want, and I don’t want it.
UTF: What does the future hold for you? Any big plans for 2013?
The future is bright. My plan is to continue building The Daily SuperHero brand with online content syndication networks and other avenues. I’m also “loosely covering” SDCC this month—it’s part vacation, part reporting gig but more vacation. And I’m currently building a “spy network” of fans who go to movie set locations to take photos and they send them in to me along with some observational notes of scenes filmed. I want fans to send me on location stuff so it can be shared with fans everywhere. If you’re near a movie location, why keep things to yourself when fans should be sharing with each other. I can provide a platform for this type of sharing as long as they follow the photo submission guidelines available on my site.
I do have one big plan that is a brand new work-in-progress. All I can say is I’m working on a television show pitch that is relevant to the movie industry. I hope to have a pitch ready for a production company or network in the coming months. But that’s all I can say about it right now.
UTF: Is there anything else you’d really like to share with our readers? Any stories from the road? Any encouraging words for aspiring journalists or bloggers?
If there’s one thing I’d like to share with those who have aspirations in this business it’s to learn your craft, find your niche and keep writing. There’s so much to learn and that is ever-changing in the journalism world. Once you think you learned it all is when you’ve plateaued in this biz. The business is constantly evolving and the best way to learn about it and how to evolve with it is through the proper training.
Maybe you’re just an aggregator writer, maybe just a columnist or maybe just a field reporter; but if you want to do all of it I strongly encourage to get professionally trained in college. What you think you know from teaching yourself via online searches is only a small piece of the journalism puzzle. Finally, when you are in college doors begin to open much easier/quicker than if you think you don’t need a degree in journalism, or the proper training.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I am humbled and happy to partake in this interview with such an entertaining and unique website like Unleash The Fanboy!