Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Has technology ruined the modern newspaper?

  1. Nov 14, 2006 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Software allowing editors to completely lay out their newspapers have stripped newspapers of all of their character.

    Case in point - when's the last time you read a 'bus plunge' story in the newspaper. Years ago, it seemed like you could count on reading a story of a bus load of people plunging into a ravine almost every week. Buses haven't gotten any safer in most of the world - in fact, a more open society in China means we should be able to read even more bus plunge stories - but you almost never see 'bus plunge' stories anymore.

    We no longer get to read stories, such as:
    In the old days, when newspapers used the old mechanical type sets, they never knew exactly how the newspaper would look until the typesetters were finished laying out the newspapers. The bus plunge stories were great for filling awkward spaces in the newspaper since you could edit out as many extraneous details as necessary to make the story the right length. For example: the last sentence in the above story could easily be deleted without detracting from the story (although including it certainly adds to the aesthetic quality of the story).

    Readers' fascination with these stories were a key reason for Hollywood's obsession with having all sorts of vehicles plunging off of mountain roads and bursting into flames in mid-air.

    Readers here in Colorado Springs are certainly fascinated by the story when another tourist manages to circumvent the brake temperature check at Glen Cove on the road down Pikes Peak and is rewarded for his cleverness by having his brake fluid boil away. Pikes Peak is a big enough tourist attraction that there's always drivers coming up the mountain to provide an eye witness account of the reactions of the hapless driver trying to navigate the hairpin turns on the road down Pikes Peak before their car ultimately plunges off the side of the mountain, usually killing everyone inside (in one of the more fascinating incidents, the driver turned tried turning off the ignition, upping the challenge to navigating the hairpins with no brakes and and no power steering).

    Now we have to be satisfied with perusing bus plunge stories on the web (Bus Plunge!) This is much less satisfying since, once again, the digital age eliminates the need for strategic editing. No more does the reader spend 10 minutes pondering why the bus plunged off the road, how the bus was spotted at the bottom of the ravine, how some of the passengers could have possibly survived a plunge into a 1,000 foot ravine, or what emotions were running through the passengers' eyes as they peered desperately out the windows of the plunging bus. All the details are provided with little need for thought or imagination by the reader. It's just not the same.:frown:
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2006 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That's sad, I was wondering why I hadn't read about any good bus crashes lately. :wink:
  4. Nov 20, 2006 #3
    Good news, BobG!


    There's a photo of police officers yelling at the cameraperson taking the photo. It was actually the front-page image of the NYT for a while (online version), so technology is hardly sidelining the traditional 'bus plunge' story. :biggrin:

    (This thread is too morbid for me, I'm out of here. :uhh:)
  5. Nov 20, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I don't think technology has hurt the newspapers, directly that is.

    Indirectly, people seem less likely to read newspapers, to choices given to readers have perhaps reduced the demand for newspapers.

    I used to get the NY Times delievered, but when it became available on-line, I stopped getting the paper. I prefer receiving the news electronically - it saves collecting piles of newspaper - and most of the time I was throwing away about 1/3 - 1/2 of the paper, e.g. the Sports section got tossed - I never cared for it. Most of the society and arts pages got tossed. I preferred substantive news about national and international affairs and events, business and science & technology.

    On Sunday, I probably threw out 2/3's of the paper without reading.

    Then there is NPR and many other news sources on-line, in addition to the Times website. So technology has given us alternatives to the newspaper.
  6. Nov 20, 2006 #5
    Why read a newspaper when I can get the same information on the TV and radio? (while driving to school or eating dinner)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook