Friday, November 9, 2012

True-life tractor beams: The latest "Trek lead"

Tractor beam stuff!
The "lead," in journalistic jargon, is the top of a news story— the essence or nugget of the story, simply stated, that is then elaborated upon in succeeding paragraphs. If all you got was the first sentence or so, you'd know the gist of the story—even without more background.

When Civil War technology yielded not only all-new mass killing methods but mass communication as well, early-day journalists using telegraph lines for the first time realized the line might be cut at any time in critical situations, in battle or by spies. Thus, reporters got into the habit of spitting out the most important news first, and then elaborating as working lines allowed. Just in case.

Softer feature stories have their own lead style—and if those stories are about cutting-edge science or technology, it's a good bet they'll begin with leads that mentioned a certain future-soaked sci-fi franchise. We say this over and over again, and STILL it keeps happening. To-wit:

Tractor Beam: NYU Physicists Build Real-Life Working Model Of Sci-Fi Staple

"Star Trek" may have predicted the iPad and the iPhone, but who would have thought scientists could actually build a working tractor beam?
New York University physicists David Ruffner and David Grier have proposed how a working tractor beam might be assembled, according to a written statement. ...

It IS an amazing story. Again.
So how else to best introduce it to the American public?

1 comment:

Dimitris said...

Awesome! Trek-inspired technology once more!