The BBC have just emailed new linking guidelines to their staff. They stipulate that linking is “essential” to online journalism and in one slide (it’s a PowerPoint document) titled ‘If you remember nothing else’ highlight how linking will change:
What we used to do…
- Lists of archive news stories
- Homepages only on external websites
- No inline linking in news stories
What we do now – think adding value…
- Avoid news stories and link to useful stuff – analysis, explainers, Q&As, pic galleries etc
- On external websites look beyond homepage to pages of specific relevance
- Inline linking in news stories is OK when it’s to a primary source
Other points of note in the document include the repeated emphasis on useful deep linking, and the importance of the newstracker module (which links to coverage on other news sites). Curiously, when referring to inline links it does say that “different rules can apply” to BBC blogs – “speak to blogs team if in doubt”.
Something I did look for – and find – was a reference to linking to scientific journals. And here it is: “In news stories inline links must go to primary sources only– eg scientific journal article or policy report (1 or 2 per story; avoid intro)”
This is significant given the previous campaigning on this issue.
On the whole it’s a good set of guidance – I’ll refrain from publishing it in hope that the BBC will…
UPDATE: It seems The Guardian followed up the story and embedded the document, so here it is:
Paul; you don’t mention whether they cover the Big Hairy Usability issue: do they forbid people from opening links in new windows?
Sorry – it’s a big issue with me: breaking the “back” button is one of the biggest sins online!
That isn’t mentioned in the guidance at all. Good point – suspect it’s built into the CMS rather than a journalist’s choice.
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When bureaucrats change their minds and you compare the old reasons why they can’t do something with the new reasons why they HAVE to do it, it makes you wonder if they are aware of the difference between real reasons and fob-off reasons.
@James Robertson – opening in a new window from a link is against the BBC’s technical standards (with the exception of launching the radio player). If a site on the BBC is doing it I’d suggest contacting the guidelines team with the exact page that is doing it.
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Does linking to the Journal article directly get around the paywall?
No. But it allows you to read the abstract & see the authors’ details. And if you’re accessing it on a university account then you may be able to read the whole paper.