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The importance of linking to reporting

Links in online reporting provides context, credibility and transparency for coverage

by Kristin Taylor
You can’t click on a print newspaper, so why should we include links in digital stories?

The Nieman Foundation provides four main purposes for adding links:

  1. Links are good for storytelling.
  2. Links keep the audience informed.
  3. Links are a currency of collaboration.
  4. Links enable transparency.

As more publications move to hybrid and digital-only formats, students have a unique opportunity to provide direct links to sources of information within the body of their articles. Using links provides additional context for the reader, encourages reader interaction and increases the overall credibility of the publication.

For example, students writing a story about homelessness in Los Angeles could link directly to the report published by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Rather than just seeing a attribution statement in an article, the reader can click on over to check out the original source. Informed consumers can evaluate that source’s credibility firsthand and read it fully to gain further perspective or learn more about the topic.

Adding links takes time and careful research, but this practice holds reporters accountable and makes their process transparent to the news consumer. This level of credibility provides an additional shield against accusations of “fake news.” 

QT86: Links are important when reporting online

Guideline:

Online publications should embed links to original sources to offer attribution, provide context and increase credibility.

Social Media Post/Topic:

Click it: embedding links in digital stories provides context and credibility.

Reasoning/suggestions:

As more publications move to hybrid and digital-only formats, students have a unique opportunity to provide direct links to sources of information within the body of their articles. Using links provides additional context for the reader and increases the overall credibility of the publication.

For example, students writing a story about homelessness in Los Angeles could link directly to the report published by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which would add credibility to their reporting and provide readers an additional resource should they want to learn more. This level of transparency allows the reader to see sources firsthand.

Resources

Why link out? Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink, Nieman Foundation

Link Think: News organizations and their hyperlinking choices, Columbia Journalism Review

When to hyperlink within an online news story?, Online Journalism Review

 

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