When journalism goes live, anything can hap- Parody: You think 'ER' live was exciting? You should see this story as it's being written.

September 27, 1997|By Charles Salter Jr. | Charles Salter Jr.,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Good morning, readers. Today, we're coming to you live from the newsroom here at The Sun. That's right, I said live. Live! Through the miracle of technology, you're reading this story as I tuhype.

Oops. Hit some extra keys. Well, that happens sometimes, and because we're live, I don't get to back up and delete that little typoi. I mean, typo. See how exciting it is to witness daily journalism as it happens? And you thought "ER" going live this week was something.

I can't promise you that our little experiment will be pretty. I can't promise you that if you keep reading, your IQ will rise in proportion to the number of words you read in this story, but are you willing to risk that it won't? What I can promise is that you will find out what happens in this story at the exact same time I do. So hang on!

Let me assure you this isn't some shrewd and transparent ploy that the marketing department cooked up over the summer to boost ratings. We don't even have ratings. Of course, if we did, I wouldn't be able to assure you of anything, except that we would do everything in our power to hold your attention, including publish more Marv Albert stories.

This isn't about circulation, either. If more of you happen to read today's paper because this story is live (yes, LIVE! Call your friends! Tell your co-workers!), we won't even notice. We're too busy preparing for all the news that could break while I'm writing.

Remember, anything could happen. Anything!

That's what you want, isn't it? Danger. Risk. Me writing in the present tense. I don't blame you. I've never felt so exhilarated sitting at the keyboard in my life. Although there was that one Internet chat group I joined in on by mistake.

But I digress. See what can happen when you're live? I had no way of knowing I'd mention the wonders of the Internet today. I'm sure "ER" whetted your appetite for this sort of lose-the-safety-net, there-are-no-second-takes, nail-biting drama.

The big event

You did watch the event of the TV season, didn't you? It was pretty exciting. Not the show, but the fact that it was live. The fact that it had the potential to be the longest blooper in television history. I was so nervous that the cast were going to forget their lines or that some gaffer was going to drop a 150-pound light on someone's head and cause a real emergency that I nearly broke down and taped the episode.

The cast and crew of "ER" are not the only daredevils out there. Did I mention that we're live right now? Live! And unlike Anthony Edwards and George Clooney, I don't have a script. I'm making this up as I write.


Pardon me, I had to --


It doesn't get any more live than this. Those were actual, honest-to-God sneezes. Incredible, wasn't it? I mean, isn't it? And you've got to admit, that was a lot easier to witness than that guy on "ER" blowing chunks all over Carter's pretty white coat.

They don't let just any idiot with 10 fingers walk on a tightrope this high. If they did, you'd no doubt have some rank amateurs taking advantage of this narrow window of completely unedited, totally uncensored space to write something juvenile ("Hey, look at me! I can say anything I want! Hi, Mom!") or desperate ("You're getting verrrrrry sleepy. Listen carefully and do exactly what I tell you. On your way to work, leave your entire life's savings for me at the front desk of the paper.").

That's why they asked a professional, somebody who could handle the awesome responsibility.


Just a minute, this call could be important. Hello? Yes yes I see. Well, Mr. Clinton, you're going to have to come up with something else chicken!


I told you something big was going to happen, didn't I? That was Jimmy Clinton, from the deli down the street. He's out of roast beef. Can you believe that?

Needless to say, what we're doing today is a risky enterprise. Remember when Geraldo went digging through Al Capone's vaults on live TV and came up as empty-handed as the Chicago Cubs? Talk about having egg on your face. That's more like an omelet. With hash browns and bacon.

Wait, here's an e-mail from my editor. Apparently, he doesn't like that last line. His exact words are, "Lay off the breakfast menu! This isn't the food section!" Yeah, well, it's too late now. Anything goes. We're live!

There's no telling what could make it into print. See, not everyone in the office is in on our little secret. I'm like the hidden camera in the lounge on "ER." Here come two of my colleagues now. Let's listen in:

First reporter: "I can't believe Marv Albert would do such a thing."

Second reporter: "You mean bite women and wear a garter belt?"

First reporter: "No, I can't believe he'd wear a dead marmot on his head on national TV."

Second reporter: "Guys are more vain than you think. Especially sportscasters."

First reporter: "Hey, great story idea!"

What you're reading is truly a rare, cutting-edge glimpse of journalism. You're behind the curtain watching the wizards at work.


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