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Reporting on the planet, daily

When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which slowed my mental growth rate two or three years behind my peers. This disorder made school and socializing very difficult. It was at this age I discovered my love for art and writing. 

After this diagnosis, I was assigned a therapist who suggested I find a constructive outlet to help me channel my focus. That’s when I started building my miniature city.

At first, I called this city “Coolsville,” and centered it around my favorite show of the time, Scooby-Doo: Where Are You?

However, as I grew older, both my city and I matured resulting in the decision to rename it Metropolis, the fictional city from Superman lore. Later, in 2004, I built my city’s oldest structure, which was also inspired by Superman, with my grandfather. This six foot model was the Daily Planet Building. 

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The model of the Daily Planet stands six-feet tall in the heart of my model Metropolis. The rooftop is crowned with a self-rotating globe and the entire structure is graced with light at night. Photo by Zack Benz

This was the moment my obsession with the publication sparked. In comic book lore, the Planet’s motto is to always provide the truth. No matter the cost. What impressed me in my struggling “disabled” youth wasn’t the steel-hearted journalistic integrity. It was the character.

This Art Deco structure housed one of the worlds finest publications, yet nearly everyone inside didn’t view themselves as privileged writers. They almost always treated people as equals. This impressed me most because I was at a moment in my life where I felt less than desirable.

It was after I built this fabled structure that my writing started. I published weekly Daily Planet issues using my grandparents’ computer. These miniature publications provided the news that occurred within my Metropolis to anyone who’d listen. I even printed small, readable issues for in the city that guests could read, all of which were housed in the belly of the Daily Planet Building.

Later in life this city I built evolved from a toy Metropolis for me, into a pop culture mega-opolis for the younger generations in my family. Out of the woods, this urban center grew, housing characters like Superman, Lois Lane, Cinderella, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and so much more. 

Even though I passed the torch of Metropolis on to my niece, I still found myself building structures and writing the news for the city, which all centered around the imaginative adventures that the kids created.

I loved doing this so much that I craved to share it with the world. I satisfied this craving using Twitter.

In February, 2014, I started my Daily Planet Twitter account. Back in the early days the handle I used was @Benz_Daily.

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The original Twitter handle and layout from 2015. Photo courtesy of Zack Benz

At first the account didn’t gain any attention. My goal was to provide a page that shared articles from other news sources that shared in the Planet’s ethical standards. I also shared digital photos of my newspapers and called them e-editions.

I decided to reach out to, well, the world stating that the Planet would love to feature their art or other creative works. That’s when my page gained attention.

After the success I decided to change the pages handle to @DailyPlanetDC. I wanted to be seen as the Daily Planet in all aspects of the page.

After my name change, the page grew exponentially. I began sharing my own articles associated with the movie franchises and featuring submitted articles as well. I also expanded the Daily Planet to Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

I’ve created over one hundred pages of digital Daily Planet’s and archived them on Pinterest centered around both my Metropolis as well as the social media network. 

To conclude this backstory on my page I’d like to express the recession that took place over the course of the past two or three years.

I try to produce original content as often as I can but life got in the way. After the death of my grandfather, then later the death of my mother, my passion for life somewhat wained as did my passion for the Daily Planet.

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One of the more popular e-editions featuring a tribute to the late, great Margot Kidder. I’m in the process of transforming the term from e-editions to online editions. This issue was designed and edited by Zack Benz

I struggled but eventually found that passion once again at The Bark. My first school year at UMD helped me accept not only my loses but certain identities as well.

For most of my life I struggled with accepting parts of myself. Then I went to the University of Minnesota Duluth and met beautiful and accepting people that assisted me.

While attending UMD I was diagnosed with a serious and aggressive autoimmune disorder called granulamatosis with polyangiitis over the summer. This is a disease in which your immune system attacks healthy cells. 

These experiences rekindled my love for journalism and reignited my passion for the Daily Planet.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows but that transition helped me realize that the Daily Planet was an outlet for self expression and rekindled my desire to make it an actual publication again.

I can’t really explain it. I just want to make the world a better place and I want to use the Daily Planet to do that. 

To make my long story short, the Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for me and it’s my life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world.

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

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