HOME
          
LATEST STORY
In Canada, newspapers’ attempts to experiment with ebooks haven’t seen much success
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 13, 2009, 7:05 a.m.

Why won’t news sites link?

It’s a great story. A magician posts videos of him shipping himself to Vegas from upstate New York via UPS. The Feds investigate. Turns out it’s a hoax and a publicity stunt. Hilarity ensues.

So far, so good. But you’re reading this online. What’s your first thought?

Right: Where’s the video?

You won’t find it in the AP retelling on the Newsday.com site.

You won’t find a link to the YouTube preview, or the special microsite set up to detail the fake journey.

You won’t find the links in the original story, in which the Syracuse Post-Standard is punked by the magician. (You will find the non-linked name of the web site, a sure sign that this is an automated port of a newspaper story)

And you won’t find them in the follow-up story on the Post-Standard either.

I’m picking on this one story, but it’s typical of far too many news web site stories that have obvious link potential: You won’t find links there.

For instance, why, in a column called “On Blogs,” which mentions ten online tools for Twitter, are none of those tools linked? And yet, in that same article, there are CMS-supplied robolinks to Britney Spears, Lance Armstrong and Al Gore, among others.

Is it stubbornness? Lack of training? Inertia? Not enough time? Back-end systems not optimized for linking?

Reporters blog. Reporters podcast. Reporters build mashups, tweet, create tumblogs, shoot video, host meetups. Everything but link. Why is the notion of link journalism still not taking root this many years into the transition from print to digital?

Yes, things are better than they were when newspapers first toddled online in 1995, but not much. More papers are launching aggregation strategies. Many reporters do link, some of them consistently, but overall, reporters-as-linkers remain a minority. And you’ll find the best examples of active linking happening on newspaper blogs, not in news articles, which are often lousy with robolinks, but surprisingly free of relevant hooks, even to sites mentioned in the article.

Think I’m exaggerating? Go to Google News and search for “helpful web site.” You might be disappointed.

And beyond the frustration it creates for readers, who come to news sites looking for utility, the missing link is an easy SEO opportunity, lost.

Whatever the reason, the missing link has to stop being a hallmark of newspaper-related sites. Is your organization doing something to encourage more linking? Talk about how you got there in the comments. And be sure to include links!

POSTED     March 13, 2009, 7:05 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
In Canada, newspapers’ attempts to experiment with ebooks haven’t seen much success
A number of papers across the country started ebook programs in the early part of this decade, repurposing their archives or producing new work. They haven’t been the moneymakers some had hoped.
How a virus demanding a bitcoin ransom almost destroyed a public radio station’s archives
But for a fluke in its system, Missouri’s KBIA could’ve lost all its files dating back to 2006.
What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
“Nobody has to read you. You have to earn that. You have to respect people’s attention.”
What to read next
718
tweets
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
540Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
502Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Chi-Town Daily News
Investigative News Network
Foreign Policy
West Seattle Blog
Windy Citizen
Newsweek
USA Today
Forbes
Kaiser Health News
The Orange County Register
The Weekly Standard
TechCrunch