Feb 14, 2009

frank rich's links

I was catching up on some news tonight, skimming the Times online, and read Frank Rich's op-ed piece from the Sunday paper. And you know what? It's full of links.

I'm used to the Times linking proper nouns, stock tickers and the like to topic pages, but Rich's column is full of non-obvious, blog-like links, most of which lead to resources outside the Times. Here's a screenshot of one link-riddled paragraph:


That paragraph links to two news stories from the Washington Post, one from the St. Petersburg Times, a blog post from WaPo and a blog post from the Times. By my count there are a total of 37 links in the piece, all of them appear to be hand-crafted (as opposed to machine-generated)...and only eight out of the 37 link to nytimes.com.

Question: is Frank Rich finding and linking these stories himself? Or is an online editor doing this for him? Because as we all remember from hypertext 101, the right (or wrong) link can really deepen the context for the reader. Regardless, this is what can make online news more a more engaging experience. It's a small thing, but having a major columnist's piece marked up with outward facing links is very, very refreshing.

Update: Josh from Nieman Journalism Lab in the comments points to a great interview they did with Rich back in November about his linking practice. I loved this quote from Rich in the piece: "As a reader, I can’t stand the links where if the link is 'Barack Obama,' and you click the link and it’s Barack Obama’s official campaign page. It’s useless because any sentient person who knows how to use the Internet doesn’t need that link to figure out how to get a motherlode of information about a proper name in a piece of journalism."