November 7, 2011
Digital attribution adds to transparency
"He said, she said" -- that's pretty much the extent of attribution in print.
But online? Link away!
By linking directly to articles or anything else that you're referencing, you give your readers the chance to go the next step in learning about something. If people have the opportunity to read one or all of the original sources you used, it helps them to make a better-informed opinion of the issue at hand.
As Steve Buttry of the Journal Register Co. writes, "Even when readers don’t click links, the fact that you are linking tells them that you are backing up what you have written, that you are attributing and showing your sources."
Linking to other pages can even help your piece rank higher in Google searches. Just like with headlines, the text you're using to link should include keywords that could draw in more viewers.
Another important detail is making sure each and every link opens up in a new tab or window. Why? So that even if your reader gets distracted by the content from a link, they won't lose your page.
Now, there is one caveat: not all links are good. If you're going to link to another page, it needs to be a "good" page. That means that you need to make sure the site you're linking to won't be shut down. If a site does go down, hopefully you've been periodically checking the validity of old links and can remove that one.
So remember: "Cover what you do best. Link to the rest." - Jeff Jarvis