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OJB: New BBC linking guidelines

October 11th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Paul Bradshaw takes a look at the BBC’s new linking guidelines for its website and journalists and finds particular improvement in linking out to primary sources, such as scientific journals.

Full post on the Online Journalism Blog at this link…

The BBC has previously trialled inline links to a limited number of external sources, but has since pledged to double its external linking by 2013.

Courtesy of Guardian Technology via Scribd here are the guidelines in full:

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The hyperlink: a love letter

September 3rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of Salon.com and a writer and editor, makes his contribution to a series on links and linking with a love letter to the humble hyperlink:

Links, you see, do so much more than just whisk us from one webpage to another. They are not just textual tunnel-hops or narrative chutes-and-ladders. Links, properly used, don’t just pile one “And now this!” upon another. They tell us, “This relates to this, which relates to that.”

Links announce our presence. They show a writer’s work. They are badges of honesty, inviting readers to check that work. They demonstrate fairness. They can be simple gestures of communication; they can be complex signifiers of meaning. They make connections between things. They add coherence. They build context.

Full article at this link…

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Nieman Journalism Lab: Are news organisations thinking about linking?

June 11th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

“Links can add a lot of value to stories, but the journalism profession as a whole has been surprisingly slow to take them seriously. That’s my conclusion from several months of talking to organizations and reporters about their linking practices, and from counting the number and type of links from hundreds of stories,” writes Jonathan Stray.

Stray looks at the linking policies and strategies of BBC News, Reuters, Dow Jones, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Associated Press. There’s more to come from this research, but some initial conclusions suggest there’s a way to go when it comes to linking out:

Reading between the lines, it seems that most newsrooms have yet to make a strong commitment to linking. This would explain the mushiness of some of the answers I received, where news organizations “encourage” their reporters or offer “guidance” on linking.

Full post at this link…

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News International steps up blocking of aggregators

January 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Last week Journalism.co.uk reported that Times Online had blocked news aggregator NewsNow from crawling its website.

And now News International has followed suit with its other UK sites, News of the World and The Sun (hat tip to Malcolm Coles for alerting us to this development). Both are now blocking NewsNow’s crawlers.

Last month NewsNow dropped links to the sites of 18 newspapers publishers from its subscription service ahead of the introduction of new charges by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) for aggregators and media monitoring services using newspaper website links in their paid-for services. Links to the Times’ site were not dropped however.

The aggregator also claimed it was facing legal pressure from newspaper groups to remove links.

Last week Struan Bartlett, managing director of NewsNow, made his feelings on NI’s decision clear:

NewsNow and other aggregation businesses will ride the wave, but I am concerned that key freedoms people enjoy, to access publicly available information on the internet using an independent search engine of their choice, are being eroded

But in a statement given to Journalism.co.uk, News International’s reasons for blocking the aggregator hinge on the use of links to its websites within NewsNow’s paid-for service:

NewsNow has been using Times Online content as part of its paid-for, commercial as well as free services. They have continued to do so despite our direct requests for them to stop. As a result, we have taken the decision to disallow their indexing of our content. News International makes a significant investment in journalism and we believe that it is entirely appropriate for us to ask that our rights are respected. NewsNow has acknowledged that they require our permission to use our content and, in the absence of our permission, has ceased to do so.

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NLA suspends payment of new link charges for aggregators

January 7th, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Yet another twist in the ongoing dispute over new charges affecting media monitoring services and aggregators introduced by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) this year.

From 1 January the NLA started charging sites, including aggregators, that link to newspaper websites and articles as part of their paid-for services.

The organisation, which is owned by eight UK national newspaper publishers, is only targetting commercial services so as to recoup some revenue from the use of newspapers’ online content.

But the NLA has announced it will suspend invoicing for these charges until the results of a copyright tribunal. The NLA has been taken to the tribunal by Meltwater, the Norwegian-owned media monitoring firm that has not agreed to the NLA’s new system, is taking the NLA to a UK copyright tribunal, arguing that it is equivalent to a stealth tax and not supported by English law.

“Meltwater’s position is that end users do not need a licence to simply receive links and read articles on the NLA’s members’ websites, and we welcome the NLA’s reasonable and proportionate response to the issue now being before the Copyright Tribunal,” said Jørn Lyseggen, CEO Meltwater Group, in a statement to Journalism.co.uk.

If the tribunal finds in favour of the NLA, the agency will backdate payments to 1 January 2010. The date for the tribunal has not yet, but an NLA spokesman said the agency hoped it would be completed by the end of the year.

“We are confident that the copyright tribunal will recognise our web licensing scheme is measured and reasonable. But we do not want any licensed users of newspaper web monitoring to be disadvantaged by Meltwater’s action. Clients of all
monitoring agencies should be on a level playing field. We have therefore decided not to invoice clients for their web licence until the copyright tribunal process is complete,” says David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, in a release.

Meltwater is one of only a small number of services that have refused the NLA’s new fees. News aggregator NewsNow was forced to drop some links to newspaper sites from its paid-for aggregation service as a result of the new system and last month launched a campaign calling for search engines, aggregators and other websites to be legally protected when linking to other online material using a headline, short quote or summary with attribution.

Commenting on the NLA’s decision to suspend invoicing, Struan Bartlett, managing director of NewsNow, said: “‘Measured and reasonable’ are the last two words I would choose to describe the NLA web licensing scheme. One might read it that this move by the NLA indicates they think there is a risk that they will lose the case, and that in that event they would not want to be burdened with having to repay fees wrongly claimed from businesses.”

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NewsNow re-enters newspaper linking fight with campaign; Meltwater takes NLA to copyright tribunal

December 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Legal, Newspapers, Online Journalism

NewsNow, the online news aggregator which this week said it would drop links to some newspaper sites from its paid-for service, has now launched a campaign calling for search engines, aggregators and other websites to be legally protected when linking to other online material using a headline, short quote or summary with attribution.

The Right2Link campaign, while not aimed directly at the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) has no doubt been sparked by the ongoing dispute between NewsNow and the agency over its plans to introduce a licensing system for commercial services, such as aggregators, using links to newspaper websites from January 2010, which forced NewsNow to remove some links.

“Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, as well as other new economy businesses that act as portals and link aggregators, occupy a key role in identifying links that are of interest to be read and passed on.  They are a key part of the world wide web’s system of circulating information,” says a press release from the campaign.

The campaign also attacks representatives from print media groups that demand organisations obtain permission to use links to their newspapers’ websites.

But this isn’t what the NLA is asking for. It only wants to regulate areas where the newspaper links are being used for commercial gain and is a supporter NewsNow’s non-commercial services, for example its free feeds to consumers, it says.

Online media monitoring firm Meltwater, which is also signed up to the campaign but has not agreed to the NLA’s new system, is taking the NLA to a UK copyright tribunal arguing that the new system is equivalent to a stealth tax and not supported by English law.

“We use sophisticated search algorithms to help our clients find content they otherwise would have difficulties locating. The NLA’s attempt to license our clients is essentially a tax on receiving these internet links. This fee is not only unjust and unreasonable, it is contrary to the very spirit of the internet,” argues Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater Group, in a statement.

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PDA: Wired UK and inflation in the link economy

November 3rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

PDA looks at an article in the forthcoming edition of Wired UK from Nick Bilton, a user interface specialist and lead researcher at the New York Times, who has been analysing the growth in linking from newspaper websites’ homepages.

“So we’re showing people online 300 more options on one page than we show them in print. And we wonder why people have information overload of content,” writes Bilton.

Some interesting stats pulled out by PDA on its own site, Guardian.co.uk, which has 1,941 words on its starting page, 350 individual links and 1,222 linked words.

Full post at this link…

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Aggregator NewsNow says publishers seeking court injunction to stop linking

October 28th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

In an open letter to publishers last week, news aggregator NewsNow claimed its service is under threat following legal pressure from UK newspaper publishers.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk at the time, managing director Struan Bartlett said almost all of those publishers named and regional newspaper group were putting pressure on the site.

Some publishers have demanded compensation for the site’s links to their content rather than a revenue share, he added.

Today Bartlett has published a ‘free linking’ Q&A outlining further details of the site’s deteriorating relationship with newspaper publishers.

In the post, Bartlett lists the publishers threatening action against the aggregator and says a number of publishers are threatening to seek a court injunction that would stop us linking if the site doesn’t accept proposed charges and controls.

“It is true that news providers perform a critical public-interest role, something we are dedicated to supporting. But the role of news aggregators, as platforms that enable people to locate news and that support a competitive market in news providers, is today equally critical to the public interest,” says the Q&A.

“The impact of the publishers’ proposed charges and controls on link aggregation services like ours is not in the public interest or compatible with newspapers’ stated desire to safeguard journalism and to protect freedom of expression, freedom of communication and access to news.”

Journalism.co.uk also heard from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) in response to our report on NewsNow’s open letter last week. A spokesman said the NLA supported NewsNows’ non-commercial services e.g. free feeds to consumers.

“We want links back to publishers’ sites and understand their centrality to the internet,” he said.

With regards to NewsNows’ commercial activity e.g. its bespoke feeds for clients, the agency said it is seeking to ‘license and legitimise this activity – not stop it’. In June the agency announced that it intends to start charging web aggregators for a licence permitting them to use links to newspaper articles.

“The NLA believes a legitimate and thriving market in web cuttings – with fair shares for content creators and distributors – will be better for all,” the spokesman said.

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Guardian Politics: Second BNP membership leak expected

October 20th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Press freedom and ethics

According to the Guardian, a new leaked list of British National Party members will be published by a website today.

The unnamed site insists the list, which includes names, addresses, postcodes and telephone numbers, is genuine and represents membership of the party as it stood in April this year.

The data leak would be the second in a year for the party after details of members were released online last November, raising debate about news organisations handling of the data and whether such documents should be linked to.

The party has suggested that the release of new information could be an attempt to undermine the appearance of its leader Nick Griffin on the BBC’s Question Time programme this week.

Full story at this link…

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Going back to the backlink licensing case: NLA’s full statement

June 26th, 2009 | 6 Comments | Posted by in Legal, Online Journalism

This goes back to last week, but it seems worth putting up here anyway. Last Thursday Matt Wardman covered this story for Press Gazette: about the Newspaper Licensing Agency regulating hyperlinks for commercial agencies and aggregators.

“The NLA will be introducing a new form of licence from 1 September to regulate ‘web aggregator’ services (such as Meltwater) that forward links to newspaper websites and for press cuttings agencies undertaking this type of activity.”

Craig McGill also picked up on it and asked a series of provocative questions. He got a lengthy response from the NLA, including this:

“This is not about bloggers adding links to newspaper sites. Our focus is on professional media monitoring organisations (news aggregators, press cuttings agencies) and their client business who make extensive use of the newspaper content.”

More questions are raised in the comments beneath McGill’s piece, including this one about copyright law.

Last Friday Journalism.co.uk spoke to the NLA who said it was part of their new e-Clips service – ‘a feed of newspapers’ online content direct to cuttings aggregators and press cuttings agencies.’

Here’s the NLA statement in full:

“The Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) today [dated June 2009] announced a new business-to- business clippings database for newspaper websites to launch in January 2010. It also has said it will extend its licensing remit to cover newspaper websites from January 2010.

“The new service, called eClips web, will offer a complete feed of newspapers’ online content direct  to cuttings aggregators and press cuttings agencies. Powered directly from newspapers’ own content-management systems, eClips web will make web-based media monitoring faster and richer and provide a permanent record for PR and communications professionals.

“The NLA will also extend its licensing remit to cover local and national newspapers’ web content. David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, said: “We have two aims: to contribute to the growth of web monitoring; and to protect the rights of publishers. Research shows that 23 per cent of newspapers’ online content never appears in print and that the internet is growing in influence as a resource for news. So it is vital to have comprehensive monitoring coverage of newspapers’ websites – and vital that the publishers are properly rewarded for their work.”

“From September 2009, web aggregators that charge clients for their services will require a NLA licence and be charged from January 2010, The press cuttings agencies that either ‘scrape’ content themselves or buy in services from aggregators will also be licensed and charged. Client companies that receive and forward links from these commercial aggregators within their organisation will also require a licence.

“David Pugh added: “We have consulted extensively across the industry – the incremental charges for web cuttings will be low and manageable. I stress this is not about individuals sharing links – we think that’s great for newspapers and promotes their websites and their readership.  What we are doing is making sure that newspapers are rewarded fairly for professional use of their web content by businesses.””

Further notes:

“The NLA is owned by the 8 national newspaper publishing houses and generates B2B revenues for
1,300 national and regional publishers through licensing use of their content by press cuttings
agencies (PCAs) and their client companies.

“The new licences will cover all local and national titles with the exception of the Financial Times and
the News International titles. These will all, however, be included in the eClips web database.”

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