The New York Times needs to do a better job of linking.
In his After Deadline blog of “newsroom notes on usage and style,” Standards Editor Philip B. Corbett laments, “For all our progress in digital journalism, we sometimes still neglect one of its most basic tools: the link.”
Links should be “as routine in our stories as quotes,” Corbett wrote. After quoting from the Times Stylebook, which encourages linking “as a convenience” (more on that later), Corbett published a list of eight passages collected by Editor for News Presentation Patrick LaForge from recent Times stories that needed links (several needed multiple links).
I am pumping my fist and applauding here in my office.
And lest you think this is unrelated to my posts faulting the Times for its inconsistent linking, note that Patrick’s first example comes right from my second post on the 24th, which mentioned him and which we corresponded about (no attribution needed; I’d rather have it coming from him). Update: The Times post now links to mine.
I’m delighted to see this progress. I’d like to see the Times (and the industry) embrace linking as a matter of ethics, not just style. But style is progress. Patrick’s examples were excellent. I hope the Times follows his lead. And I hope the news business follows, too.
Links provide attribution, transparency, context and depth, all important qualities of good journalism. Let’s make them as routine in stories and checking our facts.
Update: I’m not the only one urging the Times to link better. A Contextly tweet called my attention to this excellent post urging better linking at the Times. Among my favorite lines:
(After praise for the Times’ acclaimed Snow Fall story): The story remains a dead-end.
Not for online storytelling. Some publications have been working on similar things independently, and many that weren’t are quickly learning to add many of the tricks to their storytelling reportoire.
It’s a dead-end for a simpler reason.
The 15,000 word epic has zero links. No links to other Times stories. No links to anything outside of the New York Times. …
I’m concerned that publishers seem to be thinking that marquee stories are too good to be sullied by links. …
Don’t discard links to construct self-contained monuments. Instead, make gorgeous portals.
Excellent piece. Read it.