Some time ago I posted a video of Neil Postman talking in 1985 on PBS about his thesis for the book Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the course of his discussion, Postman notes that USA Today, the nation’s most successful daily paper, had shifted the news sensibility in its daily press run to reflect the new imagistic expectations of an American public more accustomed to interacting with information via television. More graphics, colorful pictures, shorter articles, etc… He even notes that the news box on the street looks just like a television, assuring customers that there’s nothing to worry about, it’s just like TV.
This morning, USA Today announced a “reboot” of their format (interesting and vert telling word choice) for the first time in a generation. To look at the new paper, one is immediately struck by how much the paper looks like a website. The original notion, that a newspaper would take the sensory experience of television was remarkable, but the new iteration is more remarkable still. Websites, which took newspaper as their content, are now seeing newspapers take websites as their content, which represents the odd reversal of a newspaper taking a representation of a newspaper as its new form. Don’t worry it’s just like the Internet.