“Thou shalt not link to outside sites” — a long-held commandment of many newsrooms — is eroding.
Embracing the hyperlink ethos of the Web to a degree not seen before, news organizations are becoming more comfortable linking to competitors — acting in effect like aggregators. The Washington Post recently introduced a political Web site that recommends rival sites. This week NBC will begin introducing Web sites for its local TV stations with links to local newspapers, radio stations, online videos and other sources. And The New York Times will soon offer its online readers an alternative home page with links to competitors.
These experiments exemplify “link journalism,” an idea that is gaining traction in other newsrooms across the country. “It is a fundamentally different mindset” for journalists, said Scott Karp, chief of the Web-based newswire Publish2, who coined the term.
For years, newspapers, television station Web sites and magazines have hesitated about linking to outside Web sites because, the logic goes, they want to keep the users on their own site. More internal page views and longer time-spent-viewing can equate to larger advertising revenue for Web sites.
Karp argues that Google, the leading search engine, is a direct rebuttal to that logic. “It’s all about sending people away, and it does such a good job of it that people keep coming back for more,” he said.
“If we can provide them great content, that’s wonderful. If it comes from somebody else, that’s fine, too,” Buchwald’s quote applies to diarist sites like this one or Dvorak Uncensored. It’s the how and why of returning viewers that builds a cumulative audience.
Read the article and hope – as I do – that more editors and publishers read it, as well.