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Today's nitpicking question: datelines

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Cadet, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Active Member

    My diploma says University of Mississippi, I think. I'm not sure I've ever looked at it.

    A lot of papers use Mississippi in first reference then go with Ole Miss the rest of the time. I've never told anyone I went to Mississippi, so I go with Ole Miss the whole time.
  2. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    I'm with the guy who says it has to be a town.
    Thus, South Bend and Palo Alto.
    And still, I'll give an example I go the other way at my paper.

    There is a school district called Little Axe about 18 miles from the paper.
    The paper is located in XXXXXXXXX.
    Little Axe is actually within the city limits of XXXXXXXXX, yet still about 12 miles from what anybody actually considers XXXXXXXXX.
    Clearly, somebody incorporated the real estate out there a long time ago, but city services don't extend that farc, etc.
    So, when we cover prep stuff out there, we call it LITTLE AXE. It's only a school distirict, yet it's commonly referred to as though it was a town. Anyway, with that dateline, people know where the game was played. If we datelined it XXXXXXXXX, it would only cause confusion.

    Now how about these questions?
    1. Say you do three phone interviews with the coach and two players from PODUNK for a feature, but you never leave the office. Dateline or not?
    I say: I go back and forth on this one. I know. Copout.

    2. Say you're leaving on a plane Friday night to cover a Saturday game in BOULDER, and you've got a column in Saturday morning's paper you wrote before you caught the plane about the game in BOULDER. But you didn't write it in BOULDER. Still, when it runs, you're in Boulder. Dateline?
    I say: I go back and forth on this one. I know. Copout.

    3. It's a rewrite from BUMBLEFUCK. It's written in the office, but without a byline (Staff Reports, for instance). Dateline?
    I say: Dateline, no question.

    4. The volleyball team you cover is in the NCAA Tournament in Honolulu. Shocker, the paper didn't send anybody. So you catch up with the team over the phone to write the advance. Everything's origination from Honolulu, but you're not there. Dateline?
    I say: No dateline, but reference the geography immediately.

    An aside. My big pet peave is when I see stories in the big metro paper down the street we compete against that are about 8 inches long and I know — I know — the writer never left the office. And yet, there's the dateline of where the subject matter originated. That drives me crazy. Do a solid feature from the office and the dateline doesn't bother me so much, because real work was put into the story. But the little tiny stories? Drives me nuts.
  3. jambalaya

    jambalaya Member

    Nos 1 and 2 are no brainers for me: NO DATELINE!

    Man, do I hate when papers do this. A competing daily does it around here. And sadly, we do it sometimes, too. You do not get a dateline here. Especially on your second example. Doing so is fraud in my opinion.
  4. 10, Here's how our desk would handle your examples:

    1. No dateline. In the body of the story, indicate these were phone interviews.
    2. No dateline. You weren't there when you wrote it.
    3. No dateline, unless you have a reporter on the scene feeding you stuff.
    4. No dateline, reference the geography as you said.
  5. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    Here's my thought: Nobody reads the dateline, so who cares?

    Honestly, until I got into this field, I never, ever, under any circumstances, read the dateline. It's inconsequential. The headline tells me (or is supposed to, anyway) what the story is about, and if I'm inclined to read said story, I don't generally care where it was written. I live in the greater STL region, and if I see a headline about the Rams, I generally know it's from STL, even if they're currently playing in Oakland, or if their practice facility is in one of the suburbs -- I don't care if the dateline says Oakland, it's a story about the Rams, and that's the part I care about.

    So in short, just as long as you're consistent, I don't think it matters in the least. The next time someone questions me about a dateline will be the first.
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Datelines are meant to assist, not confuse. If you're confused, how is the reader supposed to figure it out? Do what makes sense - following style and/or history. Not to say history is always right.
    Lone Star makes excellent points regarding genesis of information and correctly citing within the article. Eliminates any confusion.
  7. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The dateline a former colleague used when he filed Little League World Series stories.

    WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Where I always thought the games were played.
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Should Yankees games take a BRONX dateline?
    Should Mets games be datelined out of FLUSHING, N.Y.?
    Should games at MSG take a MANHATTAN dateline?
    Should UCLA games be datelined WESTWOOD, Calif.?

    No in all cases.

    And there is no such place as Notre Dame. Ind. or University, Miss.
  9. Clerk Typist

    Clerk Typist Guest

    I have been to Notre Dame, Ind., and it is there. I believe I saw the Fighting Irish play the Mississippi Rebels of Ole Miss University on the trip. :)
  10. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    This one's an easy one. Lamade Stadium and the complex are most definitely in SOUTH Williamsport, which is across a river, across a bridge from the city of Williamsport. South Williamsport is a town, even has its own high school.

    As far as spnited's question, to be honest, I'm not absolutely sure if University Park is just a post office or an incorporated town.
  11. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    The difference, or so I am told.

  12. blondebomber

    blondebomber Member

    I think you might be using the word "technically" a little too cavalierly and you're not grasping that postal locales don't equate to actual cities. If, as you say, the games are played in the Oxford city limits why aren't they "techically" played in Oxford? Soudns to me as if they are, but I'm confused. You're not being very technical in your description.

    Is "University" incorporated? Was it created for postal purposes so that it can be separated from the rest of Oxford? If it's the former, then that should be the dateline (and since it never is, I'm guessing it's not incorporated). If it's the latter, then University "technically" doesn't even exist outside a zip code.
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