Reporter's Batman expertise helps draw boy hero out of his shell

May 12 2012 - 12:09am

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Loretta Park
Loretta Park

Tanya Purcell was surprised when Standard-Examiner reporter Loretta Park was able to get her 8-year-old son to open up about his infatuation with Batman.

Luke Purcell, described by his mother as a shy boy, was credited with notifying adults about a house fire in his Layton neighborhood while he was running around in his Batman costume.

Loretta was assigned to do a story on the boy's heroic efforts. And she came to the interview prepared with an extensive background dealing with the caped crusader on a number of levels.

Loretta is the mother of five and grandmother of nine, ages 1 to 17. Her two sons were big Batman fans growing up, and her five grandsons all inherited the Batman gene.

She has crocheted three Batman logos, with a fourth currently in production. The logo was designed by a son-in-law, who was also a Batman impersonator growing up. In fact, all three of her sons-in-law were young Batman wannabes. The comic book hero may have had a lasting influence on Loretta's daughters, as well.

Last weekend, Loretta hosted her monthly sleepover for seven of her grandkids. With the premiere of "The Avengers" film, "There were quite a few superheroes at my house."

In short, Loretta was meeting Luke on his own level. She simply got him to talk with her by using the right words.

The story, which appeared on page one Wednesday, also garnered interest from other circles. KSL aggregated the story for its morning newscast that day, another Salt Lake TV station also did a story, and The Associated Press picked up the story for the weekend.

Much of the interest in the story was probably due to the way Loretta crafted it around Luke's responses, mixed with comments from his mother and fire officials.

Interviewing second-graders can be a tough assignment because they tend to give short answers, often with a "yes" or "no." This can be especially difficult if the child is shy.

Relying on her experiences as a mother, grandmother and seasoned reporter, Loretta was able to beat the odds by appealing to Luke's alter ego.

Vicki Vale, of the Gotham Gazette, couldn't have done better.

GLOBAL AWARD: The Standard-Examiner recently won a first-place award from the International Newsmedia Marketing Association. The award was in the category of print and digital subscription sales for publications under 75,000 circulation. The INMA awards signify the world's best marketing campaigns produced by media companies. The New York Times won the "Best of Show."

The awards competition was judged by 24 members from media companies, advertising agencies, magazines and newspapers in 14 countries.

Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or ahowell@standard.net.

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