Readers Respond to 'Help' Metropole

resto Les Forges - Sentier
The café is where the neighborhood has its lunch.

Insights, Analysis, With The Tocqueville Connection

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 2. February 1998:- Last week's appeal to 'help Metropole' has been taken very seriously by a number of readers and they have rolled up their sleeves and pitched in.

In fact, a lot of readers have sent ideas and suggestions as well as general encouragement. It is gross understatement to say that this support has been gratefully received. It all helps and I thank you.

While chatting with a Metropole reader last Friday in Paris, I realized that there continue to be some misconceptions about the relationship between Metropole and its readers. I say 'continue,' because I've written about this relationship in this column before.

It is worth doing again, partly because it is still being 'invented' and refined as time goes on.

First off, Metropole is a weekly magazine, distributed uniquely via the Internet. As such, Metropole is not, and does not operate like any ordinary newspaper, magazine, radio or TV. Because Metropole is 'on' the Internet, it means La Tete de Goinfre that its readers can be, should be, 'interactive.'

This is not a 'rule.' It is just a possibility I think should be explored, because it is possible. No doubt, some will disagree with this.

Inside the delighful Tête de Goinfre, with its pigs.

The most primary way of being 'interactive' is to send the magazine a message via Email - via the Internet.

Who am I? For Metropole, I am chiefly its editor. However, I consider every reader to be a potential 'contributing editor.' So I really act like the manager of an apartment building, which is 'owned' by its tenants. I will act on any tenant's suggestions.

Messages coming in are pretty much divided into two categories. People find Metropole, like its contents and write to say so. The editor responds to each of these messages.

But since every incoming message is from a potential 'contributing editor,' I try to find out how much potential there may be.

Some readers, for one reason or another, have a lot of 'potential.' But they are not used to any publisher or broadcaster taking them seriously - who is? - so there are usually some back-and-forth messages, to get the show on the road.

The new 'contributing editor' usually has memories to draw from, and my job is to sometimes do additional research, get photos, fill in gaps - then edit it all. But it is the 'contributing editor's' story, and the 'byline' and copyright notice are attributed to this contributor.

At the moment, two major stories are being developed, from beginnings like these.

Other readers have taken to writing to me as a person, and I - not as an editor or custodian of Metropole - reply in kind. This is a 'back-channel' and many of the messages passing through it have marathon de paris nothing to do with Paris, France, or Metropole. But even here, an idea for Metropole may emerge. If this happens, then we go over to 'Metropole-mode' and proceed in a normal way.

It all comes down to three fundamental statements: Metropole believes every reader has the potential to be a 'contributing editor.' Not every reader wants to do this and this is respected. In either case, no message from any reader will be published in Metropole without the contributor's consent.

Metropole is not just me and Paris. Metropole is the sum of its readers and their experiences, and their interaction with the magazine - and recently, interaction with other Metropole contributors, through new 'back-channels' which bypass Metropole entirely - and of course it is me too, acting as referee, umpire, Mr. 'Feet-on-the-street,' and, in general, your man in Paris.

Metropole is 'live' because it is reported from the streets of Paris and it is 'live' because it also is the community centre of a large number of people who have an even larger number of reasons for loving something about Paris.

Me, I just edit a bit of the flow in and out of this 'live' letterbox called Metropole.

The Tocqueville Connection

Like Metropole, 'The Tocqueville Connection' is in its third year of weekly publication on the 'Net. Unlike Metropole, 'The Tocqueville Connection' is a lot more serious about the issues facing France and France's relationships with its partners throughout the world.

Catherine Antoine, editor of 'The Tocqueville Connection,' writes, "Our magazine is interactive; our pages are open to your comments, criticisms and rebuttals. The Internet makes this process a truly planetary exercise. It's not only Americans who are hooking onto The Tocqueville Connection, but readers from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. This is simply more proof that the Franco-American dialogue is rooted in values common to us all - notions of progress, human rights and individual freedom."

As editor of Metropole, I agree with 'The Tocqueville Connection's" fundamental aims and its analysis of the situation of our times. Metropole is meant to be more diverting; but if you tire of fluff, then hit the link to 'The Tocqueville Connection," New issues appear every Friday.

An alert Metropole reader pointed our eyes towards the 'The Tocqueville Connection.' Thanks for passing on the tip.

The Musée de la Marinemusee de la marine

France's excellent Navy Museum is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the foundation of its collection this year. Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau started it off in 1748 by passing on his personal collection to Louis XV, which has resulted in this museum sharing the honors for the world's oldest with Saint Peterburg's Fleet Museum, founded by Peter the Great.

Musée de la Marine
Palais de Chaillot, 17. place du Trocadéro, Paris 16.
Métro Trocadéro. Closed Tuesdays. Info. Tel.: 01 45 53 31 70.

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Under the umbrella title of 'Visions du ord,' on Saturday, 7. February this museum will launch an exhibition focused on 20th century artists of the nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.


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