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Ryan Thornburg Assistant Professor University of North Carolina ryan.thornburg@unc.



A Journalists Guide To Curating Links

A journalists job has always been to create links between people and information. On the Web, that job becomes much more literal. Good links improve trust and empower readers.
Choose the Right Link Destination Links should be ... AccurateYou may not be legally responsible, but your link is your trusted recommendation. RelevantYes, you could link to that page... but why? SpecificYour readers shouldnt have to make more than one click to get the information. Consider Different Types of Link Destinations Source materials gathered during the reporting process Increase transparency Improve journalistic accountability Dont forget audio or video recordings made during the reporting process. Full details For people interested in technical information not suited for a general audience Background information For stories that ooze, not break For people coming to the story in mid-development For stories with complex context Choose the Right Departure Point For links inside stories... 1. Link nouns that describe the destination a. Who. Peoples names = biographic profiles b. When. Object or company names = photos of the object, company profiles, more details about the object c. Where. Locations = map, photo 2. Link only the first instance of a word a. ExceptionIf the first instance is in the lead, then use the second instance. 3. Link no more than 3-5 consecutive words 4. If you link verbs... a. to a contemporaneous report of the action b. to audio or video of the action For links outside stories... 1. Point the audience to ... a. previous coverage of the same story b. different angles on the same story c. general information or tools related to the entire story 2. Write link text as labels, often without verbs 3. Indicate date and source of link when appropriate 4. Group similar links under a common label a. Conceptual hierarchy b. Visual hierarchy c. Groups of 2-5 5. Use unrelated links to create serendipity, because every page is a homepage

The tips on this One-Page Guide come from Chapter 7 of Ryan Thornburgs book Producing Online News, published by CQPress. For more examples, exercises, ideas and case studies buy the book and subscribe to the related online module at