Friday, February 23, 2007

Newspapers and linking

Seems like just a couple years ago (it was!) that there was a definite aversion in newsrooms to having any Web features that linked outside the newspaper. That's why most papers took so long to feature bloggers, and why many consisted of writing with no links.
When I started my Miami Herald blog it was still an unknown proposition; because I was doing lots of linking people questioned the wisdom of having it there.

Now things are very different, at least at some papers. Recently searching a topic in several newspapers, I found a few that actually featured links to other papers' stories on the same topic! What a shock, and what a great service to their readers and researchers.

So I really like Jeff Jarvis' posting from yesterday: New rule: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.

How long have some people been saying this? It just makes so much sense. Jarvis:
That’s not how newspapers work now. They try to cover everything because they used to have to be all things to all people in their markets. So they had their own reporters replicate the work of other reporters elsewhere so they could say that they did it under their own bylines as a matter of pride and propriety.
...It means that when you sit down to see a story that others have worked on, you should ask, “can we do it better?” If not, then link. And devote your time to what you can do better.
In the rearchitecture of news, what needs to happen is that people are driven to the best coverage, not the 87th version of the same coverage.

One of the most annoying things some newspapers do is to totally ignore stories their competitors got first. It forces readers to go elsewhere, and they may not come back. I say (and have said, for years), link to those stories, or at least run a version crediting the original source. Their readers will benefit and if they leave your newspaper or your website, they will have a good reason to come back for more. It only makes sense.

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