Are News Sites Allergic to External Links?

This happens all the time, and it annoys me all the time: A big news site (in this case, The Christian Science Monitor) has an article about a specific thing (in this case, the guy who has raised $70K in a Kickstarter to make potato salad). But there’s NO LINK TO THE KICKSTARTER. (Yes, I’m shouting.) What is this, 1999? (Here’s the link to the Kickstarter.)

The CSM article includes a link to other CSM articles about Kickstarter, which is what you get when you click on the “Kickstarter” link that an apparently naive person might expect to lead to the actual Kickstarter they are discussing. But no. It’s just to a list of other articles on their site that mention Kickstarter. I wonder how many page views they get from that misleading link, and I wonder how short the time-on-site is for that page. I’m guessing it’s less than a couple of seconds from each person like me who clicked and then cursed and left.

Perhaps even more strangely, the article links the words “The Columbia Dispatch” to a page of other articles on their site about The Columbus Dispatch. They seem to realize this is odd or unhelpful, so they put in a link to the actual Dispatch site, but here’s the kicker—that link isn’t active. No, reader, if you want to actually visit that link, you have to cut and paste it into your browser. (Kudos to The Columbus Dispatch for including a link to the Kickstarter in the first paragraph of their article.)

The CSM obviously can link to other sites because the last paragraph contains a normal link to a related Slate article. I’m not specifically picking on The Christian Science Monitor. It seems downright hostile to readers to omit a link to the thing that is the main topic of an article, but I still see it happen far too often on news sites, especially sites from publications that started out as print newspapers or magazines. What is the problem? Do they think that if they include a link it will seem like an advertisement for this guy’s Kickstarter? That’s the only remotely logical reason I can think of not to include a link, but if that’s the reason, it’s antiquated.

Give readers links to the things you are covering.

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