Following a series of posts looking at external linking on news sites, Guardian information architect Martin Belam uses the BBC as a case study for outlining how the company has experimented with linking over the years.
In an earlier post, he outlined cases in which news publishers should ensure links are included:
There are several clear use cases where additional links on news stories should be added as a matter of course, though – stories that reference medical or scientific reports, stories that reference published consultation papers, stories where quotes and pictures are sourced directly from the web, and stories specifically about websites.
In the latest post on the topic, he discusses how links on the BBC’s news website today appear a low priority.
So far, with the recent BBC News redesign, it remains the fact that external links are kept away from the body of an article. Actually, arguably they have been demoted, since whereas they used to appear in the side panel of a story, they now appear at the foot of the page.
“With the impact of digital distribution, and the effect of the economic downturn, we have more than enough reasons to think that the news industry is dying. Treating our remaining paying customers like children who haven’t learnt to use Google yet makes us look like we have a collective death wish,” writes Belam.
Joanna Geary’s overt self-correction of a blog post about the Birmingham Mail and the ex-Villa player, Gareth Barry, in contrast with the mainstream media’s handling of the Phil Spector Twitter hoax, was evidence for blogger and information architect Martin Belam of the ‘online honesty gap’ between bloggers and newspapers.
“Can you remember the last time you heard a newspaper executive stand up and say that ‘One of the problems our businesses face in the digital era is that we have repeatedly been caught publishing completely untrue things on the internet, and in the face of that, we then neither correct nor retract them, or apologise to our audience’?”
Jem Stone, communities executive for the BBC Audio and Music department, raises another point in the comments below Belam’s post: not all bloggers might follow Geary’s lead, he says. “Joanna is an excellent journalist who deploys blogs, tweets, social media in her work. So making those corrections comes naturally to her. But not all bloggers do this do they?”
Martin Belam highlights an interesting comparison in yesterday’s UK media coverage of polling day: while the BBC suspended news blog comments entirely; the Sun touted its radio station as one of the only places that would be talking about politics on the day of the elections.
“[W]hat does this tell us about our regulatory framework in a converged digital media landscape?” writes Belam.
“Can it be right that ‘a newspaper with a website broadcasting radio’ can behave differently on election day from ” radio station with a website publishing text’? And come the next General Election, will we be talking about how ‘It’s SunTalk Wot Won It’?