Advice to newspapers: Just link it!

Chip Oglesby bio photo By Chip Oglesby

I’ve seen enough articles about Nick Carr’s and Clay Shirky’s back and forth rhetoric over the internet making you dumber and smarter. Surprise, surprise, they’re both publishing books very soon (disclaimer: I plan on buying both because I like their work).

I think a lot of newspapers are missing the point of what these articles are saying. Instead of bickering back and forth about using readability or actually using links in articles, what I would like to see is more people encouraging newspapers to actually use links!

I’ve visited quite a few South Carolina based media companies this week, searching for their RSS feeds for my new job and their sites have a long way to go. Some papers like The New York Times do decent jobs at creating topic pages, which I’m a fan of, but there are very few outgoing links to other, competing websites.

When would this be helpful?

For beginners, linking out to other sites helps define you as an authority on news. It’s showing your readers that “hey we don’t know everything, but we’ll show you who does, and we’ll show you where you can find it.” Be a link authority in your community and at your paper.

How can we get started?

If you’re a reporter, you should have a delicious account. Delicious is a free online bookmarking service that allows you to store links online and tag this with specific keywords. You could do this with every story that you write, with items that you’re following or as your own personal clipping service. Here’s my delicious account.

Another option is to use Publish2. I used publish2 while at The State when the Boeing news story broke to aggregate stories from around the U.S. on Boeing’s big news in S.C. It received a lot of high praise for including supporting stories.

What should we do next?

Your next step is to talk to someone in your online department. More than likely, they’ll be willing to add the links as assets to your story (hopefully). If you have a system like CCI or some other offline system, it might add them for you automatically. You should also requests for your online CMS to your website and ask your Online Editor to let you go in and manually add the links yourself, you may get shot down, but you won’t know unless you try.

In conclusion:

Stop talking about how the internet is making us uber ADD and just look at it for what it is: a way to make the world more connected through a simple use of an HTML link.