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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

04 May 2003

More clarifications on "Links" :-)

Kingsley is not convinced with my defense about lack of URLs in the ET story. First let me clarify one thing. Like I said I was merely following a trend and I don’t think it is such an offence J However his suggestions are appreciated and who knows changes may take place sooner than he expects :-)

Now for the details:

No dice. What happens when you cover emerging technologies? You give names of companies, which are pushing the envelope, right?

“pushing-envelope-kind –of – story” is a worrying trend much discussed in various media forums. I am not defending that trend. My defense was simple. In the print media, giving the contact address was seen as promo. Writing about product launch is different. News reports are meant for that. But features are different. And we have brief not to give contact info in the story itself. But I had also emphasized that it is not a complete ban on contact info. I have said clearly, “. URL is given only in such stories, which are seen as reader friendly – like any info tips - or exclusive column on web sites."Also, the magazine sections and metro supplements regularly carry contact info.in most stories. But that is a different category altogether. I said it is not done in main paper feature articles, and I was following a trend. Every story carries quotes from several people for opinions. They don’t carry the contact info alongside. And my story on blog is no different. A story on realtors for example, don’t carry the contact info of all the realtors spoken to. If the readers want, they usually ask the publication for details. Like I said, the trend may change :-)

I'd also like you to quantify your "normal ET newspaper reader" - I'm sure that you'll find your readership is fast getting Internet savvy. Are you saying that not even 25% of your readership knows about the web? I know atleast 10 people who've switched to reading the ET online and are frustrated by their refusal to hyperlink or provide related reading even between their own articles! It appears that you might have had nothing against providing phone numbers, but links are somehow not ok. Suppose you where doing a piece on a turn of the century phenomenon called "telephones" - would you provide street addresses and refuse to provide phone numbers? How short-sighted would that be?

The readers might be tech savvy – no dispute - but the fact remains that the reader asked for phone numbers and not URLs.

And the answers to Aruna's arguments:

1)The tradition has to be evaluated against the benefits of making the change, especially when reading habits are changing

Evolutions world over, happens automatically on its own - necessity is the catalyst for change. Print media may reach the “linking” phase in its own pace depending on the demands of necessity.

2)URLs are not ad space - they are contact information, atleast in the case of blogs

Precisely. Refer to the realtors story example I gave. Blogs are not commercial sites. I agree. But the norm for all the stories was followed.

3)Maybe if you had provided URLs in your article, some of your readers who were interested might have read some blogs, liked what they saw and started a blog of their own.

I agree. But my article should have prompted them enough to search Google”. It is a question of few minutes difference – between direct link and the Google link :-)

I doubt if you would have started a blog if you hadn't visited some yourself :)

Very True :-) But I did my own search and research before I got an idea. I guess anyone who is seriously interested in a subject will take the pains of doing a research and not look for an easy link :-)

I can think of only one reason to not have links in print - long URLs interrupt the flow of reading.

Perhaps. I don’t rule out the reason.

Print media could adopt the standard used in academic publications to provide references, like I have used in this article.

Suggestions are well taken. I’ll pass on the whole idea of “links” to my fellow journos.


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