Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Old Habits Continue: No Links In Traditional Media ... Or PR

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 14, 2011

Anthony DeRosa is Media Product Manager at Reuters. He writes:

Blogger ethics tend to be better than traditional journalism ethics when it comes to linking to sources. It's actually far more likely you won't find a single link in any articles in most mainstream news publications online. Sometimes they may even write out the source, but won't link to it.

Traditional media's refusal to enter the link economy

He gives several examples of the New York Post and NBC New York refusing to link to sources. He also criticizes his own company, Reuters.

Why are mainstream news outlets so averse to the link economy? Even here at Reuters, links are rarely seen, if ever, in the context of the articles we post. Felix Salmon recently referred to the Wall Street Journal as "the kid in class with his arm around his homework" in reference to their refusal to link. The New York Times is just as stingy with their links, relegating their modern link-friendly journalism to excellent places like The Lede.

I could say similar about traditional PR firms and how few links I see in their press releases, sometimes none at all. What is it about the "link economy" that people in traditional media and PR don't understand?

After all, we are many years into this new media world, there should be no excuse at all.

But here are a couple of explanations:

- Traditional media hates to quote other media as sources, there is a deeply ingrained hostility to this practice. Because it reflects badly on the reporter, that they couldn't source the story from their own contacts. That's certainly been my experience working in traditional media.

- Traditional PR doesn't get paid to put links into news releases, they are paid for their traditional roles. There is no direct benefit to a PR agency to put links to company website and company online documents and resources. PR companies are not paid to bring in traffic to a company web site.


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