Newspaper websites wake up

The Washington Post has taken the plunge – to link to rival newspaper sites.

I can’t understand why this has not happened sooner. Most bloggers realise that linking actually helps traffic, and doesn’t drive away readers as conventional wisdom suggests.

Online media outlets like Slate or Salon prominently feature their links to other sites and some, particularly blogs, are built around the strength of their links. But newspapers have been reluctant to direct readers outside their own gates. These deals with Inform are but one indication that newspapers may be reconsidering long-held beliefs about how to compete, and cooperate, with other publishers.

“Five years ago, everybody said you have to keep readers on your site, with no links out to other sites,” said Caroline H. Little, chief executive and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the online division of the Washington Post Company. “But ultimately, people will go where they want to go.”

But still they believe in forcing new windows to open when they click on these external links. People will go where they want to go… so just let it open in the same window. But at least the executive editor at the washingtonpost.com seems to get it:

“We think it’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Brady said. “It seems limiting to tell people about something another news organization has reported and not point them to it. It goes against the Web’s DNA.”

Welcome to the WWW.