As Newspapers Debate Being Like Blogs, Prominent Blogger Says Just Link to Your Sources

April 26th, 2007 5:15 PM

A troubled newspaper industry is beset with a raging journalistic debate around using the Internet to bolster the bottom line for the nation's broadsheets.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Faced with declining circulation, many U.S. newspapers are trying to engage readers by allowing them to respond to news stories online. But the anonymity of the Internet lets readers post obscenities and racist hate speech that would never be allowed in the printed paper.

LaShawn Barber lays out her thoughts in an April 26 post to her eponymous blog, suggesting that newspapers are misguided to attempt to co-opt the blog format. Rather than allowing anonymous comments that can encourage trolls that cheapen honest debate and discussion, Barber suggests another strength of the blogosphere that is easily adaptable to newspapers' online versions.:

If newspapers want to conform to the blogosphere, they should stop wasting time worrying about comments and learn how to hyperlink to sources the way blogs do. Who cares about reader feedback? Being able to go to the source and see what’s going on for ourselves is much more important.

I'd have to agree with Barber. There are some legitimate concerns with some source materials that reporters would rather not scan and disseminate electronically. But for the vast majority of stories, links to primary source materials would help keep newspapers transparent and honest in their operations. An added benefit for bloggers is it can reduce the time it takes to hunt down those primary sources ourselves, although I suspect we'd still do a fair bit of that all the same.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments field. In particular, if you know of a newspaper that already does this, please let us know.