The rise and fall of the “bus plunge” story. – By Jack Shafer – Slate Magazine
I was on this meme last winter. Now Slate has it. Thanks to Connie Mack for the pointer.
“As recently as 1980, the New York Times reserved an honored—if small—place in its pages for “bus plunge” news. Whenever buses nose-dived down mountainsides; off bridges and cliffs; over embankments, escarpments, and precipices; through abutments and guardrails; or into ravines, gorges, valleys, culverts, chasms, canyons, canals, lakes, and oceans, the news wires moved accounts of the deadly tragedies, and the Times would reliably edit them down to one paragraph and publish.”As an example of the genre, it’s hard to beat this 30-word gem I culled from the March 5, 1959, edition of the Times:
“15 Africans Die in Bus Plunge
MATTAIELE, Union of South Africa, March 5 (Reuters)—Fifteen Africans were killed and thirty others were injured today when a bus careened out of control off a cliff near the Mabusa mission station, about fifteen miles from here.