[pullquote] Reporters who refuse to link because they don’t think its worthwhile are no different from those who, in the old days, wouldn’t bother to include background in their stories. Reporters who refuse to link because they say it takes too much time and effort are either doing really bad at reporting or choosing to ignore the fact that they’re already collecting URLs as they do their jobs; attaching those links to words in the story is (or should be if your CMS is set up properly) a trivial matter. See The art of the link: Do’s and don’ts for embedding links in stories[/pullquote]
or even go back to Vannevar Bush‘s seminal “As We May Think” article in Atlantic magazine in 1945, modern thoughts on the subject, including Jeff Jarvis’ 2007 “New rule: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest,” the idea of being able to annotate ideas by linking them to reference sources, related items, definitions, longer “backstory” explanations or anything else that advances the story, in a non-obtrusive by easy-to-use way has been central to the idea of how information works in an electronic, always connected world.
New writers for ChicagoTalks (CT) often submit a story without thinking about links. That is like writing a story and then deciding to put it in a drawer but thinking you have published something. This is a wake-up call to anyone, from the contributor who wants to tell CT about an upcoming event, to student reporters who want to get their work published, to journalism teachers who haven’t taken the time to learn how to write online.
The link to outside information puts your ideas in context. It establishes that you know what you are talking about. It is one way to be transparent as readers can literally “see where you are coming from.” When you link, the mysterious tech behind your words “pings” the folks you link too, as well. And if you have been living away from the internet or have just been careless about paying attention to how things work, one good link deserves another.
There is no need to continue here, as John Kroll has recapped what you might have missed about links in his excellent and concise The art of the link: Do’s and don’ts for embedding links in stories. In his story, you will find helpful tips for both writers who have been doing this and those trying it out for the first time.
Once you “get” links and start writing like a pro online, you can consider content curation, which we will feature in an upcoming story.