Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Getting religion about agnostic links

When I visit a Web site for the first time, few things make me feel better than seeing agnostic links. A site that links to rivals and competitors is putting me -- the user -- first.
But if you're a longtime reader of this blog, of if you've attended one of my speaking engagements, then you know I've often felt like some sort of lone crackpot when I've made the argument that "journalists have an obligation as journalists to point to information of value no matter where they find it."

But time passes. Things change. And the same ideas that were rejected by nearly everyone in B2B publishing just a few years months ago are now being adopted by the smarter folks in the industry.
Take a look, for example, at this story on Prism's Registered Rep magazine. Scroll to the bottom and you'll see external links to stories by Bloomberg and the New York Post.
Or even better, take a look at the newly redesigned Web site of JCK magazine, a Reed publication that covers the jewelry industry. Scroll down the home page a bit and you'll see an entire section of agnostic links called "Jewelry related news from around the Web." Drill down a bit and you'll find links to stories by competitors such as National Jeweler. Follow a link to National Jeweler and you'll find that it too has decided that the readers come first. That magazine launched a redesigned site earlier this month and promises to provide stories "whether they come "from National Jeweler, other trade magazines, newspapers, online services or the consumer press."

Time passes. Things change. And in this week of Thanksgiving, I want to offer my thanks to everyone who has come to believe, as I do, that the way to keep a reader is to serve him.

(Disclosures: I was once an executive with Prism. Reed is a client. And I'm a longtime fan of Whitney Sielaff, the guy who runs National Jeweler.)

To read about how the newspaper industry has learned to use agnostic links, click here.
To hear a podcast about how an old-time magazine brand has learned to embrace new media, click here.

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1 comment:

  1. Paul--Well, flattery will certainly get you everywhere. Thanks for noticiing the launch. It took no less than two complete years from conception through execution to launch.

    But most of all, cheers to your advocacy of "reader first." If there's a single lesson to learn for anyone seeking to enter any walk of journalism, you've nailed it. If, as a writer, you keep focusing on knowing your reader as best as you possibly can and then strive continuously to put yourself inside his head as you build your story, all else will fall into place.

    And of course the Web offers oppotunities to serve our audiences (I guess "reader" has become somewhat antiquated these days) so much better. The possibilities open to b-to-b researchers are astonishing. Who could have imagined such easily accessed archive research, for instance? And daily aggregation--as you note--and vertical search, peer-to-peer discussions--it's all just amazing.

    In Jan., we're repositioning National Jeweler print to bring it into harmony with the content on the site. We'll move even more to news and product analysis in the magazine, focusing on placing content in the media channel where it works best.

    Anyway, I best be back to it if it's all going to actually happen. Have a great Thanksgiving, and thanks again for keeping abreast.