Link journalist

Scott Karp may have coined a new term in “link journalism.”

It’s a bit of jargon news editors need to unravel because it’s a powerful way to engage audiences.

It’s not a new concept. “Link journalism” has been practiced every since the Web was born and people began linking.

But Karp, founder of Publish2, argues it’s a valuable journalism function and defines it thusly.

Link journalism is linking to other reporting on the web to enhance, complement, source, or add more context to a journalist’s original reporting.

In fact, he sees it as a Web approach to reporting. And Web specific innovations in journalism beyond adopting and adapting new technologies are few.  

Karp says:

The standard journalistic technique for providing context and support for assertions is to quote sources, but on the web, the “link journalism approach” is to link to other actual reporting.

Mindy McAdams picks up the theme:

Rather than relying on what Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have famously criticized as the “journalism of assertion,” the new link journalism supplies evidence by backing up statements. Rather than making a phone call to a favorite and easy-to-reach expert or pundit, the journalist conducts research (imagine that!) and sources the facts by linking directly to them.

Josh Catone in ReadWriteWeb notes a problem:

There is, of course, one major hurdle in the way of convincing newspapers that this is a smart thing to do: the mainstream press doesn’t like to send people away from their web sites

I’ve been posting content that consisted of links to blogs for about a year and have for a long time included outbound links in stories. But those efforts are accelerating. I recently began experimenting with Karp on creating sets of links as content, some created by one person bookmaking relevant content and some as collaborative efforts of multiple bookmarkers.

The results are impressive. These outbound linking articles are strong traffic drivers because, I believe, they are providing a valuable, time-saving service to readers. On more than one day in the past week, a link “article” was the No. 1 “story” on the combined knoxnews/govolsxtra sites. And in the context of stories, they provide an additional rich layering of information.

As Karp notes, Google figured out the counter-intuitive nature of outbound linking years” ago: Just remember Google’s law of links on the web — the better job you do at sending people away, the more they come back.”

Howard Weaver says sites ought to be looking at how they can do this. He’s dead right.

More on “Link Journalism.”