B-link and You’ll Miss It

18 09 2011

It is easy for online news sites to get carried away with providing too much information on a news story and this is particularly true when considering the use of links in a story.  Sites like CNN and BBC News tend to avoid using links within an article but ABC News do regularly have links within a story, but manage to do so sparingly and with consistency.

Sunday’s story about the investigation into the Nevada Air Race Crash (above) features two links within the story – both which divert you elsewhere on the ABC News website.  The first link is to an almost blog-like piece about whether air races are safe at all and the second link brings up the updated story about what actually happened (ie – the plane crash itself).  Both highly relevant links and both which give good background and good insight into the current story about the investigation.

When ABC News use links they tend to appear very early in the article which I think is good, as if you are reading a story you need more background information on, then it is better this is provided early on so you can seek out what you don’t already know before you get too far into the story.  This provides greater understanding as you proceed further into the current story.  Links that appear too far into a story can be frustrating as it can disrupt the flow of the article especially if it contains information that may have been useful earlier on.  Although an exception to this may be if there is a link to statistics or other numerical facts which may support a certain part of an article.

Many of the links ABC News use direct the user to elsewhere on that website.  They also make good use of links to websites of their own locally operated stations.  A good example of this is the story about the discovery of remains in the search for missing student Michelle Le.  The ABC version of the story is written for a national audience but there is a link in the story to KGO-TV – a San Francisco based station – where the story originates.  So if the reader wants more of a local perspective then they can find it by heading to related stories on the KGO website.  On this story ABC also make use of an external link to the San Francisco Chronicle, but this is probably because they attribute the story to the newspaper.

ABC News also backs up Mark Briggs’ idea of “Word of Link” with the prominence of the recommend and share icons located alongside the opening paragraph of their news stories.  At the same time as reading the lead to a story on ABC News you can be sharing it through Facebook, Twitter or email with one simple click.

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One response

19 09 2011
Brian Paneral

I enjoyed the clever title and graphics right off the bat. I also enjoyed your use of stories as examples. ABC news is a source that I rarely even consider using, but after reading some of their coverage on the Air Race Crash I may have to consider. Good work.

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