Our 'Datelines' Are True Stories

At the bar

All Except for the Exceptions

by Ric Erickson

Metropole Paris:- Monday, 24. March 1997:- In this issue there is sort of an account of a pedestrian 'rallye' which took place a week ago Sunday. I was invited to go, but circumstances prevented me from taking part.

Metropole's server driver, Linda Thalman, participated in the rallye, so I asked her to write a feature about it. She was willing enough, but has no time - having to watch the disks spin around all day long, or whatever it is that server drivers do - so she wrote an 'eMail.'

'eMails' are reserved for readers. Technically I can say Linda is a reader - she looks at Metropole every week to see how many typos and spelling mistakes are in it and then she adds them to my bill.

I didn't know last Wednesday when I visited the Gare de Lyon whether Linda would actually write anything, so I looked at the 'Train Bleu' restaurant for the first time, and then took a walk over to Saint Antoine and the Bastille. In this way I got a set of photos for my piece about the restaurant and got 'covered' in case Linda sent anything.

This explains why the 'rallye' photos look like they have rain Entry Le Train Bleu in them instead of last Sunday's sunshine. All of this is to point out that two of Metropole's 'rules' have been... bent a little. The photos are not from the actual day of the event, and Linda's account of the events was 'forced' a bit by myself. Does anybody care besides me?

Probably not. If nothing else, it is still a - backwards - reminder that nearly everything in Metropole each week is a report from the day in the dateline - and this is what makes Metropole a little different from other online magazines, some newspapers, and even some television news.

TV-news uses 'stock' video when they have nothing fresh on hand and they are often sloppy about saying so. Newspaper reports can often be extremely vague about their datelines because they don't want readers to know, in these days of nearly instant worldwide communications, that they print 'news' which is 48 hours or more, old.

In publishing on the Internet, if one is determined to present 'fresh' reports, it is not only possible to do, but not all that difficult either.

Given the small size of Metropole's operation, the decision to carry on-time datelined reports was made by one person, not a committee. The determination to get it done is also the result of a commitment to nobody other than the readers, to do it.

Under these 'rules,' if I have to break them - nah! bend them a little - I think I should point it out. This once. In case you wondered.

Putting a 'dateline' on the published 'eMails' from readers poses several problems. Letters 'to the editor' are private correspondence. If a reader writes something that I think may interest all of Metropole's readers, I ask the reader for permission to publish the letter. Sometimes I ask for some elaboration to be added, and all of this may require some back-and-forth as well as the passage of a bit of time.

What I usually do, I set the dateline to the reception date of the final version from the reader - rather than to the date of the eMail that launched the affair. Then I add my own comments and a photo. As you can imagine, I often have to do the photo in advance, before knowing exactly when the 'final' version will arrive. Then the whole thing runs under the one dateline, which is determined by chance.

Why go through all the rigmarole? It's because of the Internet. One of my first 'street' pieces - about a spring day on the Champs-Elysées - I did on the spur of the moment, put that day's date on it and it was put online the same day.

Many months later, a reader wrote to say she had been on the Champs-Elysées on that very day, and it was exactly like that.

TV can't do it; neither can newspapers. Radio can, but doesn't. Only the Internet. It's the Internet's 'ace' feature and I intend to play it for its unique worth.

When the Bourse Is Not the Bourse

A hint has just come in that there might be some confusion about the subject of last week's 'black photo' feature about the Bourse de Commerce. This building, just off the rue du Louvre, is not the 'Paris Bourse' - the French stock exchange. The subject of last week's feature is the commodities exchange, and its activity in this area is now limited to sugar trading.

Metropole has had a long-time hotlink to La Bourse - rue Vivienne, métro Bourse - and it is included here.

Not that Metropole's 'Links' page is overloaded, but I am inclined to drop this lnk because I believe Metropole readers have scant interest in it. Its Web site can be easily reached through the International Herald Tribune's Web site, to which Metropole does maintain a link.

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