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News Papers And Sites: Linking Out To Sources, Mentions, Etc

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#1 A.N.Onym


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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:17 PM

In a comment discussion with a chief editor of the main local news site [section], we've stumbled on the topic of newspapers or news sites linking out to the sources, bloggers, companies, etc - to whatever has more information on the topic and to whatever is mentioned in the news article. (You can read the Google translated version here, if you are curious enough ;))

The editor says that they don't link out, because they don't and forgot why they don't (though they do have inactive links to sources).

My position is that active links
- are simply easier to use
- correspond with the free sharing spirit of the Web
- are a sign of respect towards sources, newsmakers, companies, etc.

Another point concerns linking to their own material, but it's another topic.

The main questions are: should a reputable, editorial news site/newspaper:
- always place active links to sources
- link to companies, people, bloggers
- other [news] articles on the topic, which shed more or different light on the topic
- news/articles that pose an opposing point of view?

While it'd be interestng to learn different hues opinion on the matter (though I suspect, I know EGOL's already ;) ), I'd really appreciate you mentioning news or newspaper sites that do link out actively and which, maybe, have published guidelines on linking out. I only know SEL/Daggle.com, but maybe you do know a few more? ;) Sites with news, not standalone bloggers (Danny is an exception, because he's a chief editor/journalist ;) ).

I ask, because I've been given an example of a Spiegel article, which only links to two of its own articles, and I can't argue that Spiegel isn't a trusted publication ;)

Thank you.

Afterthought afterthought
I've asked in this subforum, because:

Here, we'll explore "conscious web development and marketing". Volunteers? Ethical issues? Does what we do make any impact? Are there "Best Practices" for building web sites for a better world?

If you feel this thread belongs in a more relevant forum (about writing for the web or social media, for example), feel free to move it there.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 30 November 2011 - 02:49 AM.

#2 bwelford


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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:57 PM

This is an interesting topic. It certainly seems to be more common that newspapers do not provide relevant links even to the websites of some of the individuals or agencies they have in their articles.

I'm certainly relaxed about that since I believe it creates an opportunity for bloggers. I sometimes take a newspaper article and use it as the basis for a commentary on the issue including relevant URLs that the newspaper left out. My aim is that my post should be a mini-authority for the topic so that readers have a useful entry to the other sources they may wish to check out.

#3 tam


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Posted 29 November 2011 - 04:00 PM

Not a newspaper, but the BBC link out on their news site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ on both big and local stories. Most commonly to an organisations they mention in the story (bottom of the page - 'related internet links') and some info on their policies: http://www.bbc.co.uk/help/web/links/




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Posted 29 November 2011 - 04:41 PM

As tam mentions... BBC sometimes links to sources and some of their pages have an "Elsewhere on the Web" box in the lower right where they link out to other websites.

If you have a website that ranks at the top of google with "first thing that you should read about this subject" types of articles (that are in the news) you will get lots of mentions and lots of quotes on news sites. Some will list an unlinked URL but very few will link. Very often you will find spun versions of your content on their sites and images that they have used without permission.

Newspaper sites are all about keeping traffic on their own domain because their publishing goal is to display advertising.

Edited by EGOL, 29 November 2011 - 04:42 PM.

#5 AbleReach


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Posted 30 November 2011 - 01:15 AM

I've been involved with two sites that have gotten links from newspaper and tv sites, though exclusively in editorial and human interest sections. Some are even inline links that are not nofollowed. The target pages have been easy to find via Search AND well-documented AND nice-looking.

Traffic from those links has been only trickles, maybe because some of the links are related information not central to the article. Even so, I think it's worth thinking about what would make a writer's work easier. I can think of worse things than having an active journalist be aware of your site.

#6 A.N.Onym


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Posted 30 November 2011 - 02:44 AM

Apparently, in my evening haze, I meant not just newspapers (possibly inspired by the Spiegel comparison, though it'd be interesting to compare), but also news sites, the ones that research/collect news and publish them on their sites (so they may not have a print edition). I apologize for the confusion :(

Then again, the difference between them and newspapers seems to be rather small, if the newspaper only has an online edition, for example.

On a brighter side, I've found a full collection of guidelines for journalism (and external links) on the BBC website. The reading is quite exquisite, especially, if you liked reading WCAG 2.0 and other guidelines ;) Thanks for the links, tam :)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 30 November 2011 - 02:50 AM.

#7 jonbey


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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:37 AM

I ask, because I've been given an example of a Spiegel article, which only links to two of its own articles, and I can't argue that Spiegel isn't a trusted publication ;)

They linked to me!

I have noticed a small change in the last year. The BBC seem to link out more than before. The Daily Mail never linked out on their health section but now do sometimes - they used to mention research departments and journals but never link (just checked their latest article on fish and no links, just the usual (unhelpful) "new study found".

I now link out whenever possible. If I am talking about some research I will link to the journal and the establishment / lead researcher involved. Linking is good. Without links there would be no web, just a single silk thread with an ugly spider hanging on the end.

#8 A.N.Onym


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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:30 AM

Well, linking out has looong been known as one of the positive attributes of a website, regardless, whether thanks to the Google's hub factor, online reputation or trackback links and traffic. It's a shame that professional online publications, which need to be on the edge of online publishing, hold their banner so low.

#9 iamlost


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Posted 30 November 2011 - 10:40 AM

The print media has consistently failed as it has has come online. Each fail has it's own reasons but one of the biggest in the link out/back problem is that print media has a print mindset; and the power, i.e. publisher and senior editors, simply do not and may not want to understand the digital shift.

Thus you will often see citations (unlinked mentions) where links would be considered online best practice. In their mind they have acknowledged the contribution or source. And get quite defensive and rather frantic when challenged on the matter. Indeed, it wasn't until this year that AP (Associated Press, the news wire service) agreed to always link back - and only because some newspapers were threatening to drop AP over the matter (and cost of service). I found the hypocrisy amusing.

You also have the, in my mind, more pernicious problem of self-referencing links. Now there are several flavours, many being of long standing in the webdev world. In this instance I mean the practice of pointing what appears to be an external link, i.e. 'Microsoft says', that is in reality an internal link to a page that gives some basic info on Microsoft. Many web news/tabloid sites are horrid this way. Why horrid? Because the SEs are too stupid to manage true entity association and often rank the news site for the term/brand.

I won't go on and on about the idiocy and perfidy of print media online however much I'd like to vent. Instead I'll offer some more measured reading - via real external links - that I believe interesting and relevant:
Note: read the comments.
Note: and follow their external links for even more.
* Why not link to sources? by Doc Searls, 16-May-2011.
* Best Practices for Linking Out by Tim Burden, Printed Matters, 22-December-2008.
* BBC News linking policy by Steve Herrmann, BBC, 19-March-2010.
* BBC News linking policy (2) by Steve Herrmann, BBC, 01-April-2010.
* BBC News linking policy (3) by Steve Herrmann, BBC, 07-June-2010.

#10 A.N.Onym


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Posted 02 December 2011 - 07:02 AM

Actually, if done right, for trusted publications linking to your own page with brief info about the company or an editorial collection of links, rather than the information-less company website, might be better.

The problem, of course, is that in most cases, it's simply article/news tags that only list other content that mentions the company, thus making both search (search results in Google's search, not recommended by G) and navigation via links painful.

By the way, if you are curious, the editor didn't respond to my last comment, but my page-long comment on how to increase CTR on links from news stories, which mentioned
- page design
- persuasiveness
- news/article quality
- calls to action
- web usability
was republished as a full post by the site, where the initial discussion took place :) Ironically, I think that post doesn't link to my Twitter profile or website ;)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 02 December 2011 - 07:49 AM.

#11 iamlost


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Posted 02 December 2011 - 10:01 AM

:) Yura, one often is caught between laughing and crying...

A couple of thoughts:
* SEs are fairly good at picking up citations and some are on record as using them for (1) rank weighting, (2) transforming to links and seeing what comes of it.

* with Google (especially) attempting to identify entities the more obvious one can be about getting your identity online the more likely they will associate your name with your work. Note: they still make huge bloopers in this area, much as with their auto-Places idocy.

* as DazzlinDonna has suggested in another thread recently if you immediately promote the poorly attributed article with full personal/business particulars you can shift the SE and web perception of the original to include yourself. Yes, it's extra work that should be unnecessary but it can work quite well.
Note: you could try misspeeling the original byline or editor name in your piece and see if they request a change... :)

#12 A.N.Onym


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Posted 02 December 2011 - 11:09 AM

I gave them the permission to publish the comment, but thought they'd edit it. Instead, they've simply published it as is, thinking I'd volunteer for the brief and a conclusion (I later did). Now I have to remind them about linking and actually write the mention text myself (possibly, an opportunity to include the rel="author" code

Though I now regret I don't have a Russian-language website, even for publishing sudden pieces of content or just for picking at Runet, while comparing to the foreign Web, even if I don't really want to deal with Russian clients

Thanks for reminding me how to behave proactively, maybe I should just start my own site and write a better, more detailed article there ;)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 02 December 2011 - 11:12 AM.

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