Bite-sized News

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In Jack Shafer's article "The Rise and Fall of the 'Bus Plunge' Story," he talks about a now­­ extinct genre of news writing that was used as filler text in the days of "hot-type," meaning before the digital era, to take up newspaper space whenever a story ran short. 
It is sad to see such tragedy reduced to a three sentence summary, but even more horrid that these fillers were a running joke among journalists. 

That said, I do agree with one aspect Shaffer got at, "The abundance of bite-sized pieces scattered about gave readers multiple points of entry into yesterday's newspaper." With pieces that are short and informative the reader can easily take them in and come away knowing some facts about world news. However, for the filler to be a beneficial contribution to the paper it would need to broaden the subject matter beyond that of bus accidents.  Maybe today's paper could reinvent the bus-plunge, taking out the "bus" and put more relative world news into this summary-type format.  Why increase font size and add even more advertisements when more "news" could be inserted instead? I can already hear the response to that inquiry, but ideally newspapers would be about quality content not just content that sells.

For further info on the "plug" story:

Dr. Jerz's News Writing Webpage

Other Student Thoughts

 

3 Comments

Andrew Wichrowski said:

April brings up a very good point. With word processing, internet searches for fact checking, and computer programs that take out all of the guess work out of newspaper layout, wouldn't it be just as easy to include even more news rather than changing the typeset? What about when newspapers cease to exist, and printed news will move to the internet with unlimited space?

Jessie Krehlik said:

I'm not saying that this happens often, but *sometime* there just isn't enough news to cover the page. And, advertisments help pay for the production of the paper, so I do see the importance of including more ads; however, I agree with both of you that changing the type-set is a no-no. But sometimes, something happens and suddenly, we're looking at a page that's half blank and thinking, what do we do now? I'm not saying that you guys are wrong here, I'm just saying that sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do to make sure the paper makes it to press.

April M. Minerd said:

Interesting question, Andrew. I think online news still might have some of these same restrictions. I don’t know much about building a web page, but it seems like you could only fit so much content onto one screen. And the internet is a hugely visual experience, so I imagine imagery holds an even more potent role in online news. Just think how much spam and advertisements you go through surfing the net.
Jessie, I totally understand your point, and I was already anticipating that answer when I asked my question. It’s one of those things that must be accepted for what it is. I was just speaking to the possibility of something better in a more idealized world.

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April M. Minerd on Bite-sized News: Interesting question, Andrew.
Jessie Krehlik on Bite-sized News: I'm not saying that this happe
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