More and more people like to add a shadow on text. Most browsers already support shadows on boxes so no worries there, but on text, that's not supportted as is by Internet Explorer. However, IE accepts special instructions that can be used to graphically transform any object.
The result is generally close enough to a normal shadow, so it is a good idea to offer such a solution.
When writing an article similar to a newspaper, then it generally is a good idea to write it in columns. Most often, 3 or 4 columns with a gap in between and eventually a border.
Plus, we could manage images correctly using a script, whereas the auto-columns would not be capable of doing so (as far as I know, especially images that span over multiple columns.)