Home LATEST NEWS HIGH TECH 25 years of web info at /TurnedNews.com: “We created the news grinder”

25 years of web info at /TurnedNews.com: “We created the news grinder”


And as he has kept all his diaries from that time, he confirms: the site came into operation on Thursday, May 15, 1997 at noon.

We opened the floodgates […]. We were practically inventing a new languagehe says.

In 1997, viewers knew Jean-Hugues Roy; it is he who, on the show Branchintroduces them to new technologies.

The Internet is much more than a network of wires and computers. It’s a huge network of people. »

A quote from Jean-Hugues Roy, during the first broadcast of “Branché”, February 17, 1996

Sensing that the Internet was going to change things, the young journalist had learned to code. It seemed obvious to me that we were going to do information in this kind of new continent that we were all discovering, he confides. And it was.

In 1997, the Continuous Information Network (RDI) itself was only two years old.

It was in the RDI newsroom that Jean-Hugues Roy and his colleague Stéphane Éthier wrote the first news texts on www.radio-canada.com.

Journalist Jean-Hugues Roy presents a laptop with one hand.

Journalist Jean-Hugues Roy took part in the adventure of the show “Branché”, broadcast from 1996 to 1999 on /TurnedNews.com.

Photo: /TurnedNews.com

I was only a performer, explains Jean-Hugues Roy. The story is those who created and made this website who made it.

Jean-Pierre Bastien was one of these artisans. Now retired, this programmer remembers when his bosses came into his office to tell him: We have this to do, and we would like to do it rather quickly.

That being www.radio-canada.com (New window)which in 1998 became radio-canada.ca.

But how to create that? Jean-Pierre Bastien did not know it. True, this programmer was already working information in the support team. But web pages, he had never created. The newsroom required us to create a more agile, faster tool, so that we could quickly change a news story, insert another one, etc.explains Mr. Bastien.

We didn’t know what to call things, so I was talking about the grinder; we had to create the roping machine to make news. »

A quote from Jean-Pierre Bastien, programmer at /TurnedNews.com, now retired

Jean-Pierre Bastien and his teammates shared the work: he programmed publishing software, another created the design of the site, another took care of the infrastructure to digitize the images… taken from the RDI video recorders.

These precursors had a month at most to give birth to the site. We didn’t think we could make it and I admit we spent nights upremembers Jean-Pierre Bastien.

We didn’t invent the web, we created the tool that met the needs of the moment, with the means at hand. »

A quote from Jean-Pierre Bastien, programmer at /TurnedNews.com, now retired

On May 15 at noon, we left the site, remembers Jean-Pierre Bastien, we published our news and the index page. The next minute, I remember, they [les journalistes] must have added some important information, so they changed the cover and reposted. wow! It worked! From the first minutes, we measured the agility of this tool.

For the artisans of the first hour of web information at /TurnedNews.com, the workings of the news grinder remained mysterious for a long time. To the point where Jean-Pierre Bastien, who seemed to have all the answers and all the solutions, had been nicknamed Godrecalls with humor the journalist Paul-Éric Dumontier, who had started in 1992 as a reporter in Vancouver for /TurnedNews.com before becoming one of the first architects of the web.

At the time, only ten news could be published each day on www.radio-canada.com (New window) (a whole deluge is being published now). And you could only publish one at a time: if, unfortunately, a journalist pressed the button at the same time as another, he would overwrite his colleague’s text.

So as not to disturb RDI, on the air on the set next door, web teammates informed each other that they were about to publish by placing a plastic dinosaur on the desk in plain sight. In this prehistoric age of online information, the computer itself made a sound, bili beep bili beepeach time a text was published.

Princess Diana…and Bandwidth

Princess Diana all smiles.

Diana, Princess of Wales, during a visit to Burnaby, British Columbia, May 6, 1986. Her death on August 31, 1997 had generated so much traffic on the newly created online news site of Radio- Canada that it had momentarily collapsed, recalls journalist Paul-Éric Dumontier.

Photo: The Canadian Press/RYAN REMIORZ

When Lady Di’s death surprised the whole world on August 31, 1997, stunned Internet users rushed to the /TurnedNews.com news site. So the bandwidth didn’t hold up and the site crashedrecalls Paul-Éric Dumontier.

The news site was not the first milestone reached by /TurnedNews.com on the Internet. For example, in the 1990s, teams like the sports team or the broadcast Discovery had developed their site there.

Another precedent: the October 30, 1995, during the special broadcast Referendum 95Bernard Derome announces to Internet users that they can see the results of the consultation on http://www.src-mtl.com (New window)

But the web back then was static: no clickable links, no animation. We were far from imagining that we would one day watch video on a cell phonesays Jean-Pierre Bastien.

Furthermore, the web was often seen as a showcase to highlight, for example, television headlinersargues Jean-Hugues Roy.

An old computer screen displays the words “yes, no, one choice” and “INTERNET http://www.src-mtl.com”.

On October 30, 1995, Internet users were able to consult the results of the referendum consultation in Quebec online; a precedent which host Bernard Derome had shared with viewers.

Photo: /TurnedNews.com / Anne Marie Lecomte

Get a place

Although it was done discreetly, without hype, the birth of the news site bears witness to a new reality. At /TurnedNews.com, we now provide information on the web, which is becoming a proper channel. It was historic in a waysummarizes Jean-Hugues Roy.

When it first saw the light of day, the /TurnedNews.com news site was part of a tradition of information that dates back more than half a century: CBC//TurnedNews.com was created in 1936, the national broadcaster . The first television stations were established in 1952.

Within the public broadcaster, the web – and its journalists – have had to carve out a place for themselves in a box where radio and television had hitherto been used. It was almost against nature to do the web at /TurnedNews.com, the public broadcastersays Jean-Hugues Roy.

At /TurnedNews.com, which is full of microphones and cameras, it was necessary to acquire tools and resources adapted to written journalismexplains Stéphane Bordeleau, who, in 1998, was the fifth journalist hired at radio-canada.ca.

We have developed an expertise in titles, hats, leads [l’amorce du texte]. It took an editorial policy for the photos and software to process them. We took screenshots […] We worked hard for years to get a press photographer, someone who knows the job.

These 25 years of continuous information on the web have been an epic!says Stéphane Bordeleau.

At work day and night

Radio-canada.ca now has 23 regional newsrooms across the country. The Montreal one also has a mandate to cover national and international news and is at work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

From April 2021 to March 2022, /TurnedNews.com.ca reached an average of 5.9 million Internet users each month, according to comScore.

The web, this new continent, is well and truly inhabited. In 1997, no one could imagine what was going to happen next, explains Jean-Hugues Roy, but I had the intuition that this news site was going to remain and that it would take its place alongside radio and TV. It was.

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