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Linking is the best way to combat misinformation

August 26, 2009

Yesterday, I posted about how news orgs need to contextualize and organize information so readers can better understand complex issues. Today, I’m here to tell you that even the biggest and best wiki/aggregator isn’t enough to keep people on site and well informed.

If those two concepts seem contradictory…well, they kind of are—your audience is large, and contains multitudes. Ultimately, no matter how good your information is, your audience is going to decide whether it’s believable or reliable and they’ll regurgitate it (verbally and online) to their friends.

Here’s the thing: You need to be OK with that. Understand that there are open-minded people who are willing to let good information inform their opinions and there are zealots. The latter only use news coverage as ammunition or cannon fodder and that’s not going to change. That doesn’t mean you give up, though—combat it. Expose the zealots and inform the hungry at the same time by throwing the kitchen sink at them and linking to everything that’s relevant. Even if they don’t buy the context you’re shaping, they’ll have the right information (hopefully, since you’re providing and linking to it) and can shape their own view of what’s happening—and isn’t that the intent of journalism anyway?

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