Plunge should appear in the hed; the piece should be only a couple of sentences long; and it should “include the number feared dead, the identity of any group on board”?a soccer team, church choir, or students?”as well as the distance of the plunge from the capital city.” The words ravine or gorge should appear.
No matter what their editorial policies, newspapers of the era had a physical need for short articles. Typesetting was still a time-consuming industrial art, with craftsmen pouring molten metal into molds–“hot type”–to form a newspaper’s words, sentences, and paragraphs. Because the length of a news story couldn’t be calculated precisely until type was set, makeup editors would have to physically cut overlong pieces from the bottom to make them fit. If a story ran short, they would plug the hole with brief filler stories typeset earlier in the day. —Jack Shafer —The Rise and Fall of the ”Bus Plunge” Story (Slate)