AP Finally Learns That On The Internet, You Can Link To Other Sites

from the about-time dept

Well, look at that. The Associated Press has reached 1993 or so, and realized that they can (and probably should) link to other sites when reporting on a story that those other sites reported first. Of course, they’re still learning some of HTML’s features, such as the idea that you can link to actual words in a story. Instead, they’ll be putting the links (via Bitly) in parentheses right after they cite the source.

Pickups will now include a parenthetical bit.ly link to the original story, in addition to the credit. So in the fireworks story, you might see: ?According to the Boston Globe report (http://bit.ly/pDHZ6h)…? The change will be most noticeable on state wires, where pickups are common.

And, of course, they’re still working out the kinks. Apparently, some of the tests didn’t show up as links, but instead showed the full HTML text for a link (i.e., <a href=”…”>). Oops. Still, we welcome the Associated Press to the world wide web. Look around, you might enjoy it. Just, please, skip over the blink tag phase.

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Companies: associated press

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Comments on “AP Finally Learns That On The Internet, You Can Link To Other Sites”

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45 Comments
halley (profile) says:

Re: Re: First of none?

Using bit.ly has two benefits: short to type, and analytics.

Mike giggles about AP not knowing how to do html links, but it looks to me like there is a reason to the madness here. Links short enough to type is not a factor for online usage, but if it’s put into print, you can’t do the HTML tags. They could do some cute filtering to make the print-shows-URL version from the HTML original, but to be honest, this also serves the distinction between an author’s story and the editor’s role. The parenthetical link is handled the same way an Editorial Note is handled: minimize changes to the article author’s content while offering additional context information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And a big “Under Construction” sign on every page.

Then later on, they’ll start captioning all the pictures that go with their news stories. That fireworks story, for instance, would have “IM IN UR SKY” and “SPLODIN” plastered across the top and bottom of the image, respectively.

william (profile) says:

Re: Yes, let them go to the marquee tag immediately

and who would forget about the dancing hamsters.

Oh the cruel page with it’s cruel dancing hamster gif(s) and it’s cruel catchy, stick-in-you-head for a week music that actually had an album made.

Woe is the day when AP would have a dancing hamster day. Come one, come all! Step right up! Free dancing hamster in all articles! No extra charge!

now I am just rumbling… end of the day I guess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don't mess with my pickup

“pickups will now include a parenthetical bit.ly link ….”
My Ford F150 could use a bit.ly link, will they offer these as upgrades to older trucks?
“The change will be most noticeable on state wires, where pickups are common.”
I live in Texas, a state wheres pickups are very common, will I see something different on the tailgates of the new pickups?

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, good choice, AP, good choice...

bit.ly is, like all URL redirectors, so absolutely overrun with spam and abuse that it’s found its way onto numerous blacklists. Apparently the crack Internet-savvy techies at the AP missed that bit of fairly common knowledge. So instead of providing links that actually go somewhere useful, they’re going to rely on a kludge…that’s not going to be accessible to anyone whose site has those blacklists in place on its web filters.

Duh.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: They've still missed part of the html spec

Actually, you know what – I think you might have (almost) nailed it… These stories get pushed out to a tonne of sources and I’m willing to bet they don’t go in plain HTML or XML, but rather some proprietary AP format (and we all know how good they are at those)

As such, the body copy of the article probably gets extracted as plain text, and they couldn’t figure out how to include HTML with it (knowing the AP i wouldn’t be surprised if something as stupid as character encoding tripped them up)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: They've still missed part of the html spec

It could just be that they want to include it in the plan-text wires that go to dead-tree newspapers. You know, so that the bit.ly link could appear be printed without using too much space and looking clunky, and they can be much more easily typed than a full URL.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 They've still missed part of the html spec

DING! DING! DING! DING! WE HAVE A WINNER!
It might surprise everyone else in this modern digital age, but the AP is still by large a news[b]paper[/b] business.

(BTW, I would have but the first line in a flashing marque, but the TD comments are missing large parts of the HTML spec as well.)

David Muir (profile) says:

The intention of the URL is undoubtedly for use on the “wire” where a teletype machine clackety-clacks out a story. Why, just yesterday, Mr. Smith stood up to filibuster to save his boy’s club and reporters rushed to the phones to file their stories. I overheard one smart cookie say that she thought it was “just swell” that she could type in a web page now to find out more about the story. “Looking up my own research gave me paper cuts that hurt like the dickens!”

CypherDragon (profile) says:

Re: I Wonder If We?re Showing Our Age ...

Back in my day, we didn’t even have the tag, and that’s the way we liked in! No siree, none of this fancy-schmancy “hypertext markup,” or “flash-enabled” doohickeys, or WYSIWYG editors. Just simple, straight text, transferred at 300 baud! Gods how I miss those blinking lights and the musical notes of modems handshaking…

Now get off my lawn, ya damn hippies! And take your tag with ya!

Mark Ranzenberger (profile) says:

They're listening to the customers

AP actually is listening to its customers here. Many news operations select only a small portion of the massive AP feed, choosing only the AP-provided content that fits its brand and positioning and reader interest.
For competitive and branding reasons, news outlets might be willing to link to some sources, but not others. The New York Times would harm its brand if it linked in any form to the New York Post. CBS News would be more than happy to link to the New York Times, or even the Post, but it would undermine the credibility of the CBS News brand to link to a Fox News report.
Offering the link as an option forces a human to decide if it’s going to be there, and if the link is of value to the newsorg and its brand. In most cases, it will be.
Customers also are free to rewrite AP material to put it into each customer’s own voice. The customer might use completely different wording than the AP writer, but the broken-out link allows linking to original sources with a minimum of fuss.
Bit.ly does offer limited analytics.
And finally, the AP has thousands of different customers that use a huge variety of HTML editors and content-management systems. They ranging from extremely modern and sophisticated to ancient and decrepit. There’s no guarantee that tags would be read properly.
AP also serves many broadcast customers – and it’s not uncommon for AP copy to simply get slapped on the prompter, particularly in live, breaking-news situations. Gunking it up with long URLs would make it useless.
Hope that helps.

LindaJoyAdams (profile) says:

AP can't click?

I’d not been in front of a computer screen much since 1994, but necessity of the times and needing to express some grave concerns that affected me personally got a computer and Internet in our home. I knew very little about the new information highway or how to get on it and share info. I found most search engines very user friendly and just followed the prompts. Began leaving comments on articles and very soon was prompted to set up a free web site by one search engine and then Google.I’m still following the prompts and learning. For years I was a news item clipper and found Blog spot a great way to ‘ clip’ items I wished to keep on a web site by just linking. All the proper copyrighting, etc is done for me. I get paid nothing and its as easy as a click while reading my daily e-mails. AP can’t click?And its a great way to share with anyone interested including family and friends of items they may be to busy to learn about that affects them.
Linda Joy Adams

LindaJoyAdams (profile) says:

AP can't click?

I’d not been in front of a computer screen much since 1994, but necessity of the times and needing to express some grave concerns that affected me personally got a computer and Internet in our home. I knew very little about the new information highway or how to get on it and share info. I found most search engines very user friendly and just followed the prompts. Began leaving comments on articles and very soon was prompted to set up a free web site by one search engine and then Google.I’m still following the prompts and learning. For years I was a news item clipper and found Blog spot a great way to ‘ clip’ items I wished to keep on a web site by just linking. All the proper copyrighting, etc is done for me. I get paid nothing and its as easy as a click while reading my daily e-mails. AP can’t click?And its a great way to share with anyone interested including family and friends of items they may be to busy to learn about that affects them.
Linda Joy Adams

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