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The absence of hyperlinks in journalism, part two

Written by Sherwin, published on June 13, 2013

a graph in some partial html in a speech balloon

On March 7th, the Correctional Investigator with the Correctional Service of Canada published an important report. So important was this report, that many newspapers across Canada, ranging from the Calgary Herald to the CBC, wrote about it.1

But not a single news agency linked to the report. In fairness to the CBC, they had the most comprehensive report, with the most context. Even Andrew Coyne tweeted a link to it. Unfortunately, in the very same tweet Coyne also managed to dismiss every person mentioned in the article, save one. 2

If you’re interested in the report, I think this is it. Or maybe this is it. I’m not actually sure, because hey, not a single journalist or editor who was paid to cover this issue thought that it was worthwhile to link to the actual report by the actual experts.3

When I wrote about the absence of links in journalism a few weeks ago, I looked at a different case and I listed thirteen reasons why this might be happening. And I should mention that Stimson added a fourteenth reason, which sort of overlaps with the rest but is worth making note of especially since it was corroborated within a day by “the backend systems facilitating multi-market republishing may not be able to handle hyperlinks,”4 In that article I essentially concluded that the news organizations that fail to link are more anti-social, more spammy, and less journalistic because of it. That’s kinda harsh, I know, but I stand by that assessment.

The point that I’m working toward is this. Journalism is a process. And we can assess any particular act of journalism along many axes. So although I agree with Anil Dash who was just recently poking fun of the tired question, “are bloggers journalists?“, I also believe that bloggers, en masse, are more journalistic than news institutions along certain axes.

Making proper hyperlinks to appropriate reports, data and postings is one such axis.

  1. Here are some of the articles: Globe and Mail, CBC, Calgary Herald, National Post, Montreal Gazette
  2. But this ignorance from Coyne on issues surrounding First Nations, Indigenous people, racism and privilege is really just par for the course.
  3. This issue is really important and has been understood within the academy and among policy wonks for a few decades. The issue of the over-representation of certain racialized minorities in jail is not limited to Aboriginal people. And unless you want to double down on blaming the victims, it’s best we turn our attention to the role that privilege and systemic racism plays in these issues. Unfortunately, by scanning the comments on the news articles covering this issue, I see that many many Canadians are deeply ignorant and racist with respect to the incarceration rates of racialized minorities. This both saddens and infuriates me.
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