The Daily Standard
The Daily Standard, a daily newspaper, serves the City but is also distributed throughout most of its home state. Its circulation ranks it within the top twenty newspapers nationally. The Standard was founded in 1899 as the American Daily Standard by siblings Andrew and Sarah Newhall. The pair used part of their family’s fortune to start the paper and their keen interest in politics and finance informed the Standard’s focus in those early days. The Newhall family owned and operated the paper until 1932 when it was sold to industrialist Mathew Black. It was Black who shortened the name of the paper to simply the Daily Standard and whose interests in art and sci¬ence also informed the paper’s specialties. Black devoted himself full time to the Standard dur¬ing World War II, and he dispatched several reporters abroad to witness the war firsthand. It was during this period that the Standard gained national notoriety for its coverage of the war, with its reports and photos being reprinted in papers across the country. Black developed a special “instant paper” formula during this time that helped the Standard maintain its morn¬ing and evening editions throughout the war despite paper shortages. It was during this period that the Standard’s then star reporter, Denny Duke was cap¬tured by the Japanese while reporting from Asia. He was held as a prisoner of war, accused of espionage and tortured. He was released at the end of the war.
Following Mathew Black’s retirement in 1965, the Standard was sold to Conrad Simes, a controversial financier who was responsible for adopting a color, tabloid format for the Standard and reducing it to a single morning edition. It was during this period that the Standard began to adopt the identity it still has today. The editorials became polarizing and politi¬cally-charged, fueled by Simes’ own radical sensibili¬ties. The paper began devoting equal time to politics, art, cinema, finance, lifestyle and national and global news.
Throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s the paper took on several popular columnists that it has retained to this day. They include popular film critic Robert Sisko, advice columnist Edwina “Ask Annie” Moore, political commentator Patrick Owen, music critic Ryan Bryant, and Pulitzer Prize winning political and pop culture humorist Jeri Garrett. Simes continued as publisher and editor of the Standard until 2001 when, after his retirement, his son, Simon H. Simes took over as the paper’s Publish¬er. Assistant Editor Victoria Marquardt was promoted to Editor-In-Chief.
Under the guidance of its current editorial staff the Standard has become well respected for its balanced reporting in a time when many news outlets are ac¬cused of leaning a little too left or right. Regardless, the paper has maintained its “voice” and its mass ap¬peal with colorful commentary from its columnists and its challenging editorials and political cartoons. Since the popularization of the internet, the Daily Standard has seen a precipitous and ongoing drop in its circulation and advertising revenue. The current editor-in-chief, Victoria Marquardt, has constructed a large web development department that created a popular web presence for the paper and expanded the paper’s potential readership, making up much of its lost advertising revenue. The Standard’s website currently offers access to the paper’s archives, dating back to 1930, for a modest membership fee.
The Standard occupies the majority of the Newhall building in downtown. The paper’s reporting and editorial staff occupies the top three floors. Two floors are dedicated to the paper’s administrative and accounting departments. And two more floors, nick¬named the “science department”, house the layout, web development, and IT departments. The paper’s printing facilities are located in the building’s lower floors and basements. The building is surrounded by Standard Plaza, which contains bronze statues of Andrew and Sarah Newhall, the philanthropist siblings who founded the paper. It also contains a series of inter¬active video monitors set into a huge curved marble wall that displays images and articles of historical importance from the Standard’s archives. This serves as a sort of “museum kiosk” for the Standard and is often crowded around by tourists or groups of field-tripping children.
Robert is the Standard’s movie review columnist. He is a nationally known film critic due to his syndicated movie review program, At the Box Office, which he left after several successful seasons to reduce his workload and spend more time with this family. He wrote a nationally syndicated column for a few years afterward, in which he reviewed lesser known art house and foreign films. Robert spent time at several major newspapers before being lured to the Standard by its wily Editor-In-Chief. Beyond his weekly column, Robert also appears on the Standard’s internet video podcast, The Daily Standard Update, where he provides sound bite versions of the review from his column. He also appears occasionally on a local newscast, particularly in connection with summer “tent pole” movies, and controversial art house films. The most important thing in Robert’s life, the only thing to surpass his passion for film, is his family. Robert shares a spacious condo in the heart of the city with his wife, JoAnn Grigsby, an amateur filmmaker Robert met at Cannes. Their adopted daughter, Sky, completes the couple’s personal ideal of domestic bliss. The family can often be found together on the weekend, taking in one of the city’s many live performances, or even movies, provided it agrees with Sky’s precocious five-year-old tastes.
Sam is a bit of an anachronism. He’s part of a lost breed of newsman, a pugnacious, no-nonsense journalist who only knows how to ask the “hard questions”. He would probably still have a press tag tucked into a frayed fedora if it wouldn’t get him laughed out of the newsroom. Nonetheless he wears a wrinkled raincoat, takes notes on a steno pad in a strange form of coded shorthand (his own invention) and has a cigarette tucked behind his left ear and a number two pencil behind his right.
Sam often finds himself at odds with his editors, but his eccentricities and quixotic crusades are tolerated because everyone at the paper knows that there is a certain type and tenor of story that only Sam can get. Fueled by a steady string of coffee and cigarettes, Sam lives only for reporting. He has left in his wake a steady stream of ex-wives, all products of some self-deluding phase in which Sam’s happiness was going to come first and his career second. Sam’s failed marriages have left him paying overwhelming amounts of alimony, and instilled in him a misogynistic attitude that will undoubtedly insure he dies alone as well as penniless. Ultimately this matters little to Sam. Life is just the boring downtime between each Big Story.
Victoria is a forward thinking woman with an analytical mind, two traits that have been instrumental in getting her where she is today. Conrad Simes hired her because he knew the newspaper business was changing and the Standard was going to need people like Victoria if it was going to adapt and survive.
Victoria is a very private woman who focuses all her energies and talents on her career. She occasionally lies, telling herself one day she’ll slow down, meet someone, start a family, but she doesn’t really have any intention of doing so. Her life hasn’t been without romance, but these flings are usually short-lived office affairs that rise out of working in close proximity to people. She’s gossiped about secretly as being a bit of a heartbreaker around the offices, but in reality she’s only had a couple of discrete affairs in her time at the Standard. In reality, Victoria is all business. She occasionally gets a little giddy when a particularly powerful story crosses her desk, but she typically keeps full control of herself bringing her full faculties to bear on the smooth running of the Standard and its continued rise to prominence in an age when major American papers are hemorrhaging readers.
Edwina “Ask Annie” Moore: There’s a big reason that Edwina is ideally suited to writing the paper’s “Ask Annie” column – she’s an inveterate busybody. She has always insinuated herself into the problems or her family and friends and is very quick to dispense advice from the moral high ground she’s staked claim to. This attitude doesn’t stop at friends and family of course; she’ll butt in to anyone’s problems and won’t hesitate to tell them how to live their lives. Though she may look busy at her desk carefully typing out her latest column or clucking her tongue at the scandalous content of the letters she receives, she’ll still be peering over the rim of her bejeweled reading glasses, keeping tabs on just about everyone in the office.
Patrick Owen: Pat, the paper’s political commentator, lives and breathes politics; it is his one passion in life. He pours over papers from all over the world, is constantly on the phone to his various political and lobbyist contacts, and decries this new age of the blogosphere but reads them all anyway. Pat considers it a moral imperative to be politically informed and God help you if you don’t vote or are apolitical. He doesn’t care which side of the political fence you fall on as long as you care enough to have decided, in fact he prefers encountering people he can differ with, there’s just nothing like debating the issues of the day for Pat. Pat is great as a source of information on local, national and global politics. He is very well informed and also keeps up with politics and legislation as it applies to superheroes. Pat is fairly ambivalent about metahumans, provided they stay out of politics; he would rather see the governing and legislating left to the “normal people”.
Ryan Bryant: Ryan is the paper’s resident music critic and you would probably know just by looking at him. He looks like an aging rock star, bedecked in a vintage concert t-shirt, leather jacket, carefully distressed tight black jeans, pointy boots, and his graying hair is nearly calcified under a heavy layer of mousse and hairspray. What differentiates Ryan from actual rock stars his age is he still has all his mental faculties. Sure he experimented with psychoactives during his formative years in the early 1970s, but that was a different culture and he’s been clean ever since. Ryan doesn’t break pace for anyone and he knows just about everybody, from roadies, to rock stars, to management and record execs. Ryan prides himself on his sharp mind, he has an excellent memory and can recall the nuances of most of the legendary concerts he’s attended and seldom needs to take notes at the shows he attends now; he can recall notable moments and can recite the set list with ease.
Jeri Garrett: Writer of “Jeri’s World”, a popular humor column, Jeri relates the ups and downs of raising three kids as it applies to the ever-changing world of pop culture. It’s the kind of gentle humor that brings a smile to the reader’s face and leaves him with a nicely summated moral at the end. Besides how the latest pop stars, internet phenomenon, or video games affects her kids, Jeri is also very aware of the effect superheroes have on kids. The jury is still out on that one; she thinks heroes could be a good influence, but aren’t always, and the idea of hero worship seems a dangerous one to her.
Simon H. Simes: Mr. Simes knows little about the newspaper business and is only in the position he’s in because of his father. While he’ll occasionally go to his father for advice, he usually just relies on the very capable Victoria Marquardt. He is primarily just a figurehead, a representative of the Simes fortune and its interest in the paper.