By Steve Outing
It’s beginning to feel like we’re getting somewhere on the issue of mainstream news websites linking outside themselves. Yesterday in a story about Elliot Spitzer’s alleged call-girl hook-up, “Kristen” (aka, Ashley Youmans, aka Ashley Alexandra Dupré), the Times linked to her MySpace page. Hurray!
Linking offsite is a no-brainer for Internet native publishers. But it’s taken a while for mainstream publishers to come around. Perhaps the tide has turned?
There’s also the issue of linking to controversial websites. I noticed yesterday that a story in the Huffington Post about prostitution provided links to two of the biggest legal brothels in Nevada, the Kit Kat Guest Ranch and the Bunny Ranch. Both those websites feature partially nude photos of the ranches’ “girls.” I doubt that NYTimes.com would publish those links.
But I’ve long thought that if a link is particularly newsworthy, it should be made even if highly controversial. Online users only need click over to Google to find a controversial site in a few seconds anyway. I’d rather see news site provide the link, possibly with an intermediary warning page about what the viewer is about to see. Serve the readers; don’t make them jump through unnecessary hoops.