Earning credibility through transparency

Amy Gahran writes an illuminating piece about transparency and credibility in media and blogs.

“Traditional news organizations often give lip service to the value of transparency. In practice they generally prefer to present themselves as omniscient, objective, and authoritative – a surprisingly opaque and highly artificial (incredible) stance.

For instance, most traditional news organizations publish only the finished results of their reporting and editorial processes. Even when publishing online, they often avoid or minimize direct links to sources. Questions or disagreements generally may be raised only via private communications with reporters and editors, and these discussions generally become public only at the news venue’s discretion (via “letters to the editor”).”

I find that media often explain the lack of external links with a fear of driving traffic away from the website (and the ads). I can understand the rationale behind that view, keeping the visitor as long as possible at the site will generate a much needed revenue, but there surely must be ways of making the sites “sticky” enough and still enable external links for increased transparency. The Norwegian blog Undercurrent has an interesting article about the original design of Norwegian newspapers’ websites. They have a huge amount of internal links which may help explain their relative success. Visitors are lured into clicking on links for additional news stories. The author Olav Anders Øvrebø calls it “the Drunken Sailor theory of web behaviour”.