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As long as they’re changing AP style, they should change the way they link

April 24, 2010

There’s a huge problem with the way the AP “links” to sites they retrieve information from. I found this AP story on seattlepi.com today:

pi.com AP storyI skim through the 18-paragraph piece and at the end, find this:

Example of AP's linking styleThere’s absolutely no good in linking to the source of literally all your information when the link exists at the end of an 18-paragraph story. And it’s even less useful to link to their home page. What if I access this story in a year? This story is going to be buried somewhere in the Everett Herald’s digital basement, not surrounded with lights on the home page.

I know newsbrands like the Everett Herald have agreements and contracts with the AP that allows AP to do these kinds of things, but it’s not the legality I’m concerned with—it’s the relevance to readers. The Herald’s version of the story has a related link, a PDF file of juror’s instructions and a comment thread (oddly absent on the pi’s site).

As long as the AP is making changes, they should embrace the ethics of online publishing more completely. If they want to stay relevant, they have to start leading on these things.

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