Felix Salmon, Link-phobic bloggers at the NYT and WSJ:
The problem, here, is that the bloggers at places like the NYT and the WSJ are print reporters, and aren’t really bloggers at heart. I discovered this a couple of weeks ago, after I posted a long and detailed blog entry on the court case between JP Morgan and Mexico’s Cablevisión. The WSJ’s Deal Journal blog didn’t link to it, but a couple of days later, the blog’s lead writer, Michael Corkery, had a piece in the print version of the newspaper which added nothing to the story, quoted the same Cablevisión executive that I had spoken to, and didn’t mention my post at all.
The decision not to cite or link to my blog was made by Dennis Berman, the editor of the WSJ story and a former Deal Journal blogger himself. Corkery and Berman read my piece and spent a couple of days re-reporting it, yet despite the fact that both of them have worked as bloggers, neither felt any need to link to me — or even to link to the court ruling in question. It’s a print-newspaper mindset, and it reveals something important: if even the WSJ’s bloggers eschew obvious links, there’s really no hope that the newspaper will genuinely embrace the power of the web at any point in the foreseeable future.
Both the NYT and the WSJ have built blogs as something of a link ghetto: if you want to find an external hyperlink anywhere on their sites, the only place you’ll have a decent chance of finding one is on the blogs. (There are a few noble and notable exceptions, Frank Rich being one of them: the web version of his column is always full of interesting external links.)
That’s depressing enough — but what’s more depressing still is that even the bloggers at the NYT and WSJ are link-phobic, often preferring to re-report stories found elsewhere, giving no credit to the people who found and reported them first. It’s almost as though they think that linking to a story elsewhere is an admission of defeat, rather than a prime reason why people visit blogs in the first place. It’s a print reporter’s mindset, and it should have no place at Dealbook, Deal Journal, or any other blog.
Conventional media organs are great with all their resources and ability to dig deep into a story. But the replication of nearly the exactly same “breaking news” all over the place is a bit much. If there’s something that comes out that I want to talk about, one of my first instincts is to see if Ed Yong or Dr. Daniel MacArthur have already covered that ground, there’s no point in doing work which has been done, when a link would suffice. But obviously you’ll never see CNN or The New York Times just link the AP wire story, let alone each other, when it’s something which has just broken and everyone knows the exactly same few facts. In contrast, if Ed or Dr. MacArthur cover the bases, I might extend upon their own angle and see if I have a value-add. Though sometimes even when we don’t intend to complement, we may. See How inbreeding killed off a line of kings and Inbreeding & the downfall of the Spanish Hapsburgs; both were published at the exact same moment because were under embargo and had our posts written ahead of time.