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Dateline or no dateline

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rhody31, May 26, 2011.

  1. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I work at a chain of weeklies. We don't publish until next Wednesday for our next editions, but today was the first day of lax playoffs.
    I started my day at a boys game at 4, shot and took notes for the first quarter, then headed over to see a girls game that started at the same time. I got there in time to see most of the second half and was able to interview coaches and players from both teams (School A is part of one of our weeklies; School B is another) for stories. The coach of the boys team called me tonight and I got the results and quotes.
    My question is, do these stories get datelines? I'm pretty sure it's legit to put one on the girls story, maybe not so on the boys because I gathered most of the information over the phone as opposed to on site. I just don't want to confuse stupid readers because we have live art from the game - although the celebration shots won't really work now.
    Let me know SJ ... and pray for the teams I need to lose to lose.
  2. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I know many will disagree, but I put datelines on everything that occurs in a different city, whether I covered it live, via phone, internet or whatever. The purpose of a dateline is to tell the reader where the event took place.
  3. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    By the guidelines we had at AP, I'd say bylines for both because you were in each city.

    That may be wrong, but that's how my particular AP buro did it. I remember one time when the writer didn't set foot at an event in News City he got a byline even though, at the time of the event and the reporting, he was across the state in Hours Away City.

    The reasoning? Oh, his home was in News City and he'd started out from there.

    Same thing happened when another writer drove through News City on the commute into Office City.

    I don't think it confuses your readers. I'm convinced less than 30 percent even understand what datelines are, much less know what they mean.
  4. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Ugh. The dateline is where you wrote it from. The story can make it clear where the game was played, but the dateline indicates whether you were actually THERE.
  5. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Dateline is actually where you collected the information. For example, if I go to a team's practice in say, Suburb, and I interview people, then I go back to the office in Big City to write, the dateline will be SUBURB.

    It's where you get the information, not where you write. But I agree you have to actually be there. No dateline on phone interviews.
  6. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    21, the problem is I was there for both games, but not for the entirety. The boys and girls game are both going in the same paper and happened at the same time, but I wonder if people are going to see the datelines and be like "how was he in two places at once" even if I have live art for both.
    Da Man - but what about my specific situation. I was at the game - for a quarter. Then I left. Interview happened over the phone.
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I don't disagree, I violently disagree. You don't put a dateline on something that also contains your byline unless you were actually there and reported the story on that basis.
  8. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Sad thing is, most of the people at the chain I work for don't do this. The news dept. - sans Schieza, who has heard enough of my dateline rants to know better - does phones and puts datelines on everything.
    Have I mentioned how much I hate my papers?
  9. Exactly. For some reason, though, some papers go the other way on the news side. At my last paper, the news side put a dateline on everything, even if it happened in our town and whether or not they went out there. If the story took place in Nowhereville and they never left the office, they still had a dateline of Nowhereville.

    In sports, as you know, it's totally different. We only put a dateline when we physically were at the event or in the city in question. This created a problem when a news guy moved over to help us when we lost a writer. On his first story, he did the interview over the phone with a girl from Midcity (obviously making up names here) and put Midcity as his dateline, then was shocked when I asked him about it and deleted it because of what he was doing in news.

    Anyone have any idea why some people think it's where the event happened now as opposed to the standard rule of you being there? Changing it makes no sense to me.
  10. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's going to confuse readers much...I don't think most pay attention to that stuff...but the rule as I understand it is that if you were there on site during the event it gets a dateline. If you were there for five minutes, snapped some photos and got a few notes, you can dateline it...even if it requires a follow-up phone call to get the rest of the story.
  11. apeman33

    apeman33 Well-Known Member

    Apparently, I wasn't taught datelines right. I was always told (and have always put) bylines on any story that takes place outside of Home Paper City, regardless of how I got the information. And the dateline is where the story took place. So for the game that I was at on the road, I put:

    By Apeman33
    Podunk Press Sports Editor
    SHELBYVILLE - Podunk's Ricky Bobby had 33 points in the Hillbillies' 95-64 rout of Shelbyville in Southeast Nowhere League play here Friday night.
    (The "here" refers to Shelbyville, which was what my old boss told me was what should be done before he moved on to Big City).

    And on games where I'm not present:

    Podunk Press Staff Report
    D'CROWFLIES -- Jenny Smith's 3-pointer at the buzzer gave West Podunk County a 66-64 victory over D'Crowflies in Western Hellhole Conference play here Friday night.

    Home games, no dateline whether it gets my byline or the "Staff Report" thing.

    As to whether or not it makes any difference to the readers: no. I don't think they even notice the dateline.

    The byline tells the reader if I was physically there (as I was taught by my predecessor). The dateline just tells the reader where the story takes place and has nothing to do with my presence. I was taught this in 1991 and this thread is the first time I've ever heard anything different*.

    * - If this is taught in the classroom, well, I majored in broadcast journalism so I was never in a newspaper writing class.
  12. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    We do datelines on out of area roundup shorts. For full articles it's only datelined if you actually physically went to another city. Phoners don't count. Not that our rules or rationale (which I don't really know) really mean anything to any other papers.
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