Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
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Thursday, March 17, 2005

From the beginning, linkage has been what the Web is about and what weblogs are about. For online journalism, however, the Web has been primarily a distribution channel for the same stories that are on the printed page or on the air.

Online news sites' linkage mostly has been used (with varying degrees of success) to make up for the small size of the computer screen -- packaging together the stories and photos of last weekend's eight-page News Sentinel spread on medical missionaries, for instance.

(For me, the big newspaper pages worked; the online Macromedia Flash version had problems. Update & correction: The problems were on a couple of computers in computer-lab classrooms, and only with Firefox. Unfortunately, those computers were the ones connected to the rooms' projectors -- and that's the browser I was using to show the story. The students' workstations were actually OK, as I discovered 24 hours later.)

Traditional news organizations' sites have been less inclined to link "outside" their own recent articles and (sometimes) archives -- except when they carry blocks of links to a partner organization, such as the WBIR headlines on the front page of the News Sentinel's, or's links to New England Cable News.

In contrast, weblogs are all about pointing-out outside, a culture of "Look what I saw; isn't it great/dumb/funny/awful?" During last year's election (and the growing media awareness of blog culture), I noticed more news organizations adding links "outside," either to campaign sites, candidates' position papers, or even competing publications. Some papers and TV stations host bloggers of their own, such as Michael Silence at the News Sentinel, who regularly links to bloggers and out-of-town television station and newspaper websites.

Today, however, I noticed something even more encouraging at The New York Times site: Maureen Dowd's column not only quotes from, but weaves in links to:

Is this something new? Maybe it's been going on for months and I simply didn't notice. I don't even have time today to look for other examples. But newspaper reporters traditionally hesitate to quote each other, much less quote and provide a link to the original, which is what Dowd does. (Columnists, admittedly, have always been more independent than news reporters, since they're in the opinion, analysis and/or humor business.)

Over spring break next week, maybe I'll find time to look for a Times statement about this; I know it announced some new archive linkage page policies recently, but this is a more subtle change. And I'll try to browse the Post more often to see if it has reciprocal links back to the Times.

In any case, I hope to see more of this conversation between old and new media.

(Incidentally, all of the stories Dowd links to will be good ones for journalism and public relations students to read for our next discussion of media ethics.)

9:49:20 AM    

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