Tag Archives: datelines
We open today with a scene from “The Terminator,” circa 1984, Act I, as originally written by Shakespeare:
Kyle Reese: What day is it? The date!
Cop in Alley: 12th… May… Thursday…
Kyle Reese: WHAT YEAR?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Sometimes I feel a lot like our hero, Kyle Reese. Naked except for a trench coat and a sawed-off shotgun strapped to my thigh, not even sure of the year.
The internet can be useful. Open the search engine of your choice. Tap tap tap and click the search button. I usually do this countless times on any given day.
Then a quick scan through the results shown. By now most of us have learned to differentiate the meaty links from the fluffy ones just by looking. Our search engine instincts kick in and somehow we just know which links might bear fruit and which are pure crap. I try hard to listen to my gut and get it right on the very first try. It’s not that I’m that busy but it becomes sort of a game and a matter of pride to find what you want on the very first click without having to wade through the plethora of time-wasting sludgy garbage that clogs that series of tubes we love so much.
So a promising web page has been found. Now what? First I read the article. Is this really what I wanted? If it looks promising, I begin to dig a little deeper.
- What web site am I on? Do they have an “about” page?
- Perhaps a quick check of Wikipedia is in order to tell me a little more about this site? Is it funded by Murdoch or Brietbart?
- Who is the author of this article?
- When was this article originally published?
Whoops. Hold on a second. No date??? Whiskey tango foxtrot. Sup with that?!?!?!?
One thing I’ve noticed, and perhaps you have, too, is: How many times do you come across articles published on the internet where something as simple and obvious as the date has been omitted?
This sort of thing really blows my mind. In fact, this just happened to me a few minutes ago – which is what prompted this post leapfrogging to the top of the heap.
I’ve seen this on news sites. I’ve seen it on blogs.
Even a WordPress template like mine doesn’t bother to show the year. Take a look right now. The year isn’t shown along with the post. It only has this cutesy little colored tab that is part of the design that says something like “15 Mar.”
When it’s a blog you can sometimes get the date other ways. Try checking the URL showing in the address bar. (Normally web surfers aren’t supposed to be looking at what’s found in their address bars.) If you see something like “2010/02/25” in there then you know you’ve found the date of publication. (This trick didn’t work on the site I visited a few minutes ago.)
If you are on a WordPress site you can also look for the calendar widget. Of course, this widget is optionally installed per the wishes of the blogger, so it just might not be there. If it is installed and you’re viewing an individual post, then the calendar will automatically be showing the date of publication. So that’s another way to get the year. (This didn’t help on the site I visited a few minutes ago.)
That last trick is to see if the site allows comments. These days this is common on blogs and also on a lot of news sites. And if there are comments, they just might be properly dated. BINGO! I finally got the date on that web site I visited a few minutes ago. Boy, they sure made me work for it.
What really amazes me, however, is how many times I come across missing datelines on friggin’ news sites. This is simply unconscionable. Unconscionable! I mean, really. You are a news organization and you can’t report a fact as bloody simple as the date of publication? Suddenly I find myself feeling uneasy about your ability to report the news.
Let’s say I’m looking for information regarding tax rates on the wealthy. (This is just an example.) I find a story dated “July 28th” and learn that the tax rate was over 70 percent on that day. Hey, that’s fairly interesting and nifty information! Hell, it might even be what I was looking for. But, alas, I’m unable to determine the year. That makes the information absolutely useless to me and I have to keep on slogging those search engines.
And another frequently omitted piece of information? The name of the author. It’s nice to know for various reasons including the possibility I’d like to check out other articles they have written.
Once you know to look for this phenomenon you might be stunned by how often you dates and author names omitted from what you read on the web.
This is “Omitted” and reporting live from somewhere in time within this morass also known as the abyss. Back to you, Bob!