EXCEPT that editorial writers have traded in a quill for a keyboard, the work that we opinion scribes put out has changed little since the 18th century. The pundit surveys the world around him or her, muses, scratches the head several times, then cranks out a few hundred incisive words advising readers how they are to think about the Issue of the Day. Meanwhile, the world has been changing at a dizzying rate. It's time we leaped in and started swimming in the new technological currents. So, herewith, an experiment with a new kind of editorial, possibly the first true breakthrough in the form in two centuries - one that gives the demanding modern reader control over the process.
If you have a touch tone newspaper, press 1 for a domestic topic, 2 for an international topic, 3 for a cultural or arts topic, 4 for an economics or financial topic, 5 for uplift. [Let's say the reader presses 2.]
Press 1 for United States foreign policy, 2 for Western Europe, 3 for Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, 4 for Latin America, 5 for the Middle East, 6 for Asia, 7 for Africa. [5 beep.]
Press 1 for an editorial on the Arab-Israeli dispute, 2 for Iraqi aspirations to regional leadership, 3 for the unending search for moderates in Iran, 4 for democratization in Jordan, 5 for Western hostages and state-sponsored terrorism, 6 for nuclear proliferation in the region, 8 for the prospects of a settlement in Afghanistan. [1 beep.]
Press 1 for an editorial focusing on ``Palestinians' rightful dream of a homeland,'' 2 for ``lingering questions about the PLO's abandonment of terrorism,'' 3 for ``the grievous harshness of Israel's policies in the occupied territories,'' 4 for ``Israel's political gridlock that stalls all efforts toward peace,'' 5 for ``the immigration of Soviet Jews and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.'' [4 beep.]
Press 1 for cautious optimism, 2 for a cautionary warning, 3 for exhortation, 4 for high dudgeon.
We hope readers will find this new service useful. Please give us your comments.