The practice of linking to other websites is traditionally the domain of blogs. In efforts to provide adequate citations, bloggers oft link to, and even quote, external sources, and this may include competing sites or blogs. However, it seems that mainstream media (MSM) outfits are now adopting this.
The Washington Post, The New York Sun and The Daily Oklahoman, in Oklahoma City, have contracted with an online news aggregator, Inform.com, to scan hundreds of news and blog sites and deliver content related to articles appearing on their Web sites, regardless of who published those articles. Links to those articles will appear in a box beside the site’s original article or within the text of the story.
Newspaper Web sites, which commonly post articles from sister publications, wire services and even blogs, have typically stopped short of providing generous doses of news from competitors. The move made by these papers is not a result of cooperation across the industry as it is a counterattack by publishers against Google and Yahoo, which have stolen readers and advertisers from newspapers in recent years, both with their search engines and their own news aggregation services.
Great. MSM is learning from bloggers (or at least apparently so). But they probably haven’t learned enough, as there are existing free online tools that help aggregate related stories and track inbound linkages, such as Technorati.
However, one design/usability issue that hit me is their practice of launching new windows to open external links.
These links did not whisk readers away to another site. They instead opened a new window in the browser with the new story so readers could keep their original NewsOK page up.
From an end-user and (wannabe) designer’s perspective, this is a no-no.