The NYTimes.com’s strange linking practice

The other day, Scott Karp discussed the policies traditional media companies follow regarding inline links (links within the context of a story) to articles appearing on other websites. I’ll admit that I was confused by the post because I thought it strange that we are still in 2007 discussing the benefits to traditional media websites of out-bound links.

However, now that Scott has reminded me, I’m noticing how clueless such a stingy out-bound linking policy can appear — and how it is a disservice to readers and also has some negative SEO mojo also.

Here’s a classic example. In a NYTimes.com article today* about John Curley announcing his lay-off from the San Francisco Chronicle via his Flickr account, there is no link to Curley’s Flickr account or to the specific post where Curley made the announcement.

What’s with that? In this case, the story is about Curley’s use of Flickr. And still, there’s no link to the Flick post he used. I don’t understand a policy that prevents out-bound links to the actual object and focus of a story.

  • http://hyku.com/blog/ Josh Hallett

    Rex it might be a policy, but working with a number of papers and reporters it might fall into one of two categories:

    1. The content management system that reporters use is mostly geared towards print, the web is an afterthought. As such they can’t do it.

    2. I would say that over half (wait make that 75%) of reporters I deal with don’t know any HTML, let alone a basic link. They just don’t know how to do it.

  • Rex Hammock

    Josh, I respect your knowledge of this, but the NYTimes.com has the ability to link. (Perhaps we can forward this to Khoi Vinh for a ruling on the CMS limitations of their current system.)

  • Rex Hammock

    I just noticed this article on NYTimes.com is “rich” in links, so apparently the CMS makes linking easy. Perhaps your observation that the article was written for print is correct. However, when a story is actually about a weblog, even a print-centric reporter or website copy editor should understand the rationale of a link to the subject of the story.

  • http://hyku.com/blog/ Josh Hallett

    Just because a story is about a weblog doesn’t make much difference, to the reporter it’s just another subject.

    How many times have you been contacted by a reporter writing a story about blogs and they’ll ask, “So what are blogs?”

  • Rex Hammock

    I haven’t been contacted by many NY Times reporters with that question, however, I definitely have been asked that question by many reporters — but fewer as time goes by. In any event, I always refer them to you when they ask. :)