Cyberpresse, the online arm of La Presse, has a report about the number of health infractions found in Montreal restaurants over the past year. Let’s just say there were a lot, but let’s also keep in mind that many of them were probably minor.
However, what really interests me about the Cyberpresse report is that it’s a great example of how mainstream newspapers still don’t “get it” when it comes to the web.
Check it out; at the bottom of the report is a link to the web site for the Ville de Montreal, where we are told we can find the list of infractions. (Verbatim: La liste des contrevenants est accessible à ville.montreal.qc.ca.) However, there are two really big problems with that link.
First, the link is badly formed. The “http://” part is missing (missing from the link code, not just the display text). As a result, your web browser thinks that “ville.montreal.qc.ca” is simply an address within Cyberpresse’s web site. It is not, so you get a “page not found” error.
OK, that’s a small glitch. I see this same error all the time on people’s blogs. We’re used to it.
However, this is a major metropolitan newspaper’s site, and that article has been up all day and has still not been fixed. This demonstrates a complete lack of awareness that things posted on the web are not “put to bed” the way print materials are. Web content is alive and dynamic. You can go back and fix errors as soon as they are spotted. You can post updates to the story as it evolves. Unless, that is, you are in the old school “newspaper” frame of mind, in which once it goes to press it’s gone and can’t be recalled.
The second problem is that even if the link worked, it’s essentially useless. All it does is point to the Ville de Montreal’s municipal home page. Getting from there to the actual list of infractions is a whole separate task in itself.
Cyberpresse should have linked to the actual page where you can get the list of infractions. (And of course, they should have formed it correctly). Therefore, as a public service, I will step in where Cyberpress failed, and provide the link:
Damn. That link opens up a whole other can of cockroaches, so to speak. If you follow it, you’ll see it does not, in fact, lead to a list of infractions. It leads to a search form, where you have to search by both key words and criteria.
That really puts a damper on the list. For example, I can’t just sort by the names of the establishments; I have to search by the name of a particular establishment. That leaves me high and dry if I don’t know the place’s correct name. This method also limits the ability to simply browse through the list. But that’s a whole other conversation.
But at least my link works (as of this writing), which is more than I can say of Cyberpresse.