Inability to link runs amok in Chicago Reader media story


UPDATE 4:32PM EST: The Reader tweeted me to say this was a “mistake” that has been fixed. If you view the story now, all the links I suggest have been inserted. The exact ones. 

It all began when I saw a tweet to a Romenesko post on Twitter this morning. 

The topic was investigative reporting websites and how they manage to get daily traffic while also working on long-term, lengthy investigations where they may not have something to publish for months at a time. Very interesting! I was especially delighted when I saw that the story appeared in my very own hometown alt weekly, the Chicago Reader. I eagerly clicked over from Romenesko’s summary to get the full story. What I found was astonishing.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good piece on an interesting topic by the Reader’s media reporter, Michael Miner. But this story on a topic which is, again, WEBSITES contained not a single link. Now, as anyone around Chicago media will tell you Michael is a bit of a digital curmudgeon. He’s not exactly a big believer in this brave new world of digital media and fine, that’s his prerogative. But surely there are at least a few people on the Reader’s staff who are more forward-thinking and could have inserted some links into this piece before it went up on the site? For heaven’s sake, at least toss a few links to the sites being explicity talked about here while you’re writing about their struggles with getting traffic:

Voice of San Diego


Better Government Association

Investigative News Network

There now, was that so hard? 

While you’re at it, you might also want to link to major investigative stories you mention, like this one:

The BGA’s first truly long-term investigation under Shaw was the analysis by senior investigator John Conroy and the Center on Wrongful Conviction’s Rob Warden of the high cost to taxpayers (at least $214 million) of wrongful convictions in Illinois. Months in the making, it was published in June.

Oh really? It was? Hmm, where can I read it? I mean, if I’ve read this far in the story, I must be someone interested in investigative reporting to some degree. Perhaps I’m just the sort of person who might want to read this story that the BGA apparently labored over for months. But I guess the last thing I would want to do while bemoaning the fragile state of investigative reporting online is to actually link to a great example of it. I wouldn’t want to reward the hard work of those journalists with a few more eyeballs on their story now would I? And I certainly wouldn’t want to advance the cause of democracy by creating a more informed public. 

For those interested by the way, the story in question can be found here.

Finally, I want to be clear and say that the Reader is hardly the only publication that is guilty of this lack of linking and if you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that this conversation goes on all the time in news nerd circles. I’m only singling out this particular example, because this is actually a story about digital media that so obviously cries out for links; their omission is thus all the more glaring.


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