This document is a supplement to
Editing for Clear Communication
Copyright 1996-1999,
Thom Lieb

No portion may be reused without the author's permission.

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Further Reading:
"The Sad Story of Videotex"
by Mindy McAdams

To learn more about this college editing textbook or to order an educational review copy, please visit McGraw Hill.

Editing for the Web

Prehistory: The Years Before the Web

For years, publishers of newspapers, magazines and other print products have been fascinated with the idea of delivering information electronically. In contrast to conventional printing on paper, delivery by computer and other means seemed to offer several benefits both to producer and consumer.

First, the ever-escalating costs of paper and postage (or newspaper delivery) could be eliminated. Over the years, those costs had forced publications to greatly increase their prices and even helped force some publications (most notably Life and Look) out of existence.

Second, information could be disseminated to readers much more quickly than it could in printed publications. The bulk of information in a daily newspaper is at least 12 hours old; articles in a monthly magazine are often written three or four months before they're published.

Until recently, however, electronic delivery often has received only a lukewarm reception from readers. The earliest attempt at delivering news over computers came in the early 1980s with a technology known as videotex . For a monthly fee — and possibly a hefty charge for equipment — subscribers could read their daily newspapers on their television sets or computer screens. But the low-quality images and slow scrolling made online reading anything but fun — and delivery of the actual newspaper was usually cheaper. Videotex died a relatively rapid death. Teletext, a similar technology that was delivered by broadcast signal to televisions, fared no better.

During the next decade, publications turned to several other means of delivering information electronically. Some hooked up with online services such as CompuServe and America Online. Others experimented with fax editions and computer bulletin boards. A range of media companies tried their hands at producing CD-ROMs, delivering information by satellite and email, N11 services (using three-digit phone numbers like 911) and a number of other methods.

And then came 1995 ...

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