In reading Cape Cod Times' photographer Steve Heaslip's blog post about working at the firefighter awards ceremony in Boston yesterday, it occurred to me that Steve's very good blog posts are missing links to related items within our product suite.
Let me be clear: My intention is not to pick on my old friend, Steve. There are many blogs throughout Ottaway where the practice of linking -- especially to related items on our platform -- is conspicuously absent.
The missed opportunities in Steve's post:
- We could link the words "Firefighter of the Year awards" to the main story
- Link the words "Christopher Brown" to the magnified photo showcased in the story.
- Link "document this special event" to the photo gallery.
- Link to the related video -- currently embedded in the article but missing from the video roster, by the way (maybe it could be anchored so the link could jump right to it?).
Other examples of missed link opportunities in Ottawayland:
- Mail Tribune Sport Insiders blog had a post on Oct. 4 about the multiple hoops they had jumped through to get a freelancer to cover out-of-state Oregon and Oregon State football games. Unfortunately, they missed a chance to link to the actual Beavers and Ducks stories the blog post references and lauds.
- There's a mixed link bag at Cut for Space, a blog covering Montgomery, Walden and Maybrook, NY. The good: In her latest post about the upcoming meetings on the Central Hudson power line project, Meghan Murphy linked off site to a project overview. The missed opportunity: She did not link to the excellent power line landing page on recordonline.com about this long-running regional issue.
- Pocono Record Editor Bill Watson wrote a very good post about recent cleanup operations along I-80 in Stroudsburg, PA, and how it was essentially lipstick on a pig of highway in need of modernization. But he did not link to stories that had been done by the news staff about the cleanup and the resulting traffic jams, nor did he link to his very good Commuter/Traffic landing page with its up-to-date traffic map and promo to sign up for commuter text alerts.
- Seacoast's Frank Coppola wrote last night about the fantasy baseball impact of Javier Vazquez going to the Atlanta Braves. He linked to an ESPN report, but missed an opportunity to direct readers to our version of the AP report.
- SouthCoast's Jennifer Lade had a fantastic post last month containing all of what she could not fit in her article on the Wareham town meeting, but there was no link to the original article, and no link was added to that article nor a subsequent one to showcase Jennifer's supplementary material on her blog.
- Stockton city hall reporter David Siders has had three recent posts about candidates jockeying for attention so they can be appointed to fill a soon-to-be vacated city council seat. None of the three links to Siders' Nov. 19 article on the city council accepting applications to provide some much needed context.
- Michael Fitzgerald at The Record in Stockton has many internal links.
- Mike Sadowski's PopRox blog for poconorecord.com mixes in both internal and external links.
But when the opportunity exists, linking can only help more deeply engage the readers and provide them with more context, which are the two most important outcomes. In the Steve Heaslip example that led off this post, I guarantee every single Cape Cod firefighter who comes across either our main story or Steve's blog post would love to click through to the related items. They'd even likely share some of those links with their peers, friends and family. One of them might have a blog, too, and would love to know there was more fodder for their linking druthers.
There are lots of things that go into good blogging. I'll posit that linking is the most essential distinguishing characteristic. Otherwise, an unlinked blog post is just another column.
Note: If creating links in blog posts is something that requires more training in our Ottaway newsrooms, please let me know. I hope that's not the case, but if it is, we should address it immediately.