Gray Lady Warms Up To Linking Out

The New York Behind the Times

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Let it be on record that in late 2008, the New York Times decided linking to other sites is acceptable for respected journalism operations. The headline, meant to be the replacement of the town crier, is heavy and sluggish with decrescendo: “Mainstream News Outlets Start Linking to Other Sites.”

I’ll save you the trip to the calendar. No, we haven’t time-warped back to the Nineties.

Here’s a headline that’s been obvious: Mainstream News Outlets Have Been Ignoring the Revolution.

Isn’t it kind of their job to monitor those things?
Gray Lady Warms Up To Linking Out
Anyway, Brian Stelter says not linking to outside sites has been “a long-held commandment of many newsrooms,” and that, it turns out, times they are a-changin’. No longer do news outfits have to pretend other news outfits don’t exist. (Here’s a secret: the audience knows there are other places.)

Why the change of heart? Easy: Everybody’s doing it. And by ‘everybody,’ they mean oft-maligned elite media, with noses pointed firmly skyward: the Washington Post, NBC, the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, TMZ.

They let TMZ into their parties because he always brings the girls and Jaeger. But in an article about linking out to other sources, TMZ still gets the cold shoulder. The link in the Time’s article points to NYT’s Topics page with NYT articles about TMZ. Better to learn from them than from that animal himself—you can never trust the nouveau riche, you know.

The reason that’s not a link directly to TMZ is because the NYT just doesn’t go around making drastic changes. Links from the Gray Lady will come from a special area on Blogrunner called “Times Extra.”

Wow. And they almost seemed to get it. From a user perspective, not linking out to a mentioned website is really annoying. If I want to find example.com, which isn’t linked in an article, I have to actually type it in a URL bar. That’s better than thinking a present link is to the actual site and finding out it’s actually to some internal page I had no interest in visiting in the first place.

The new acceptance of linking out comes at an interesting time, just a couple of months after Tim O’Reilly skewered mainstream sites for stingy with their link love. O’Reilly called it “a small tear in the fabric of the web.”

But I have a hunch it has less to do with being hip or with it, or with any type of unwritten law of online etiquette, and more to do with becoming a destination aggregation site like Google. Stelter says as much in his report, this Google-eyed wonder of search portals and the revenue they make.

Ah, Purity, how you’ve prostituted yourself.

Hey, maybe next week the Times will read my Essentials of Font Philosophy piece and discover why sans-serif fonts work better online.

Gray Lady Warms Up To Linking Out
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  • http://www.blackbusinessservices.com Traverus

    The reason certain sites don’t link out is because you really cannot control the content of the other site. Imagine if CNN linked out to another site that suddenly changed or added content that was very offensive. Can someone say "lawsuit"?

    Linking out to other sites, especially on main pages can be a very dangerous practice as it’s so unpredictable. Thanks, Osagie Irowa

  • http://world-information-technology.blogspot.com Guest


    Have a nice artical.

  • http://www.amoils.com/warts.html Warts

    First off, you should have someone periodically go through and remove the crappola comments like the two obvious ones here. 99% of the time the comments are great at WPN, then you get idiot responses like that.

    I think its good to see that change with large News media linking out. Wait until they actually figure out what nofollow its!

    The problem I find is that there is still an elitist linking system, for example, they would rarely link to the source of an event, only to the media agency covering the story.

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