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March 19, 2009

Newspapers Who Don’t Link

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:52 am

http://littlemagonline.com/musical-chairs/musical-chairs-guest-dj-ts-a-disco-gift-to-you-playlist-for-8-december-2009/ I’m starting to notice an ugly trend among online newspapers. Unlike most blogs and online only sources, traditional newspapers don’t link to websites in articles – even when the website is the focus of the article.

I must have read about 4 or 5 articles earlier about wikileaks leaking the ACMA list of banned websites – but none of the articles included a link to said list. A quick Google search showed that no major newspaper linked to the list, yet every major blog that covered the story did. I can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of editorial policy at work here, or if the newspapers are just afraid of linking to “improper” content. (which, in this case was simply a list of more links to the actual websites – many of which feature porn.)

Somebody on Twitter pointed out that they could be doing so out of legal concerns – but I’m fairly sure that it’s not illegal to link to something in America. Linking is no different than giving directions – even a first year law student knows that if I tell you how to make a bomb and where to get the parts, that doesn’t make me liable for what you do with the bomb.

Ordinarily I’d be convinced that fear of legal repercussions was the motive, but I’ve seen this phenomenon many other times too.

Just yesterday I read a Times piece about a NFL mock draft that included several predictions, but not a link to the actual draft that the article was about. Instead, they just listed the name of the sportswriter who wrote the mock draft and forced me to find it on Google.

Almost every day I receive a Google alert about a news news source that mentioned my website, NoSlang.com in one of their stories – and the result is always the same: A full article about internet slang, quotes and top 10 lists pulled directly from the site, but only a text mention instead of a hyperlink. That’s fine if the story were appearing in print, but it’s as if all they did was copy and paste to put the story up on the web.

Actually, that copy and paste theory makes a lot of sense when I think of the broader picture of most newspapers. It seems to me that newspapers are still so out of touch with the internet that they don’t realize how important it is to readers to add hyperlinks to the online versions of their stories. Can that be true? If so, it’s no wonder that a lot of newspapers are failing.

1 Comment

  1. It’s not just that they don’t link out … In the UK, several have policies forbidding you from linking TO them (not that they could hope to enforce this – or want to. I suspect they’d never read their own terms & conditions): http://www.malcolmcoles.co.uk/blog/newspapers-no-linking-to-us/

    But on the no linking out, I did a count recently of which major UK newspaper sites linked to google maps when google street view launched in the UK. Only 1 did (I won’t add another link here in case it looks spammy – you’ll find the post on my blog).

    Comment by malcolm coles — March 23, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

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