Monday, July 31, 2006

Learning to believe in the agnostic link

Of the subjects I like to discuss with B2B journalists -- ethics, multimedia, writing for the Web, reporting skills, etc. -- nothing causes as much anger as when I talk about "agnostic" hyperlinks. I've been called "stupid" for suggesting that a magazine link to a rival. I've been yelled at, scoffed at and walked out on. I've had myriad eyeballs rolled at me.
And it's all because I believe that journalists have an obligation as journalists to point to information of value no matter where they find it.

Two weeks ago I raised this subject briefly in a presentation to the ASBPE in Chicago in which I urged journalists to become more "blog-like" -- embracing the culture of blogging by becoming more passionate, adding feedback functions and linking outside their own publications. "If your readers should know about it," I said, "link to it -- no matter who published it." And much to my joy and relief, no one threw anything at me.

That could be testimony to the good manners of the folks at ASBPE. Or it could be an indication that attitudes about links are changing. Certainly today's news that the Washington Post has embraced the agnostic link would suggest that the mainstream press has begun to act more blog-like. So perhaps the B2B press will too.

On the other hand, as I noted just a few days ago, some B2B publishers haven't even learned to link anywhere, let alone link to competitors.

For more on the value of linking, read this earlier post.

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1 comment:

David Shaw said...

I couldn't agree more. If you commit to serving an audience completely, you need to try to serve as many of their relevant information needs as possible, even if that means linking to the competition.