Newspapers: stop moving around your online articles

Let those links live.

For most newspapers, I bet, this is an issue with their content management system, but this is getting serious.

Two of my best clips ever for the Philadelphia Inquirer, including one among my favorite stories I’ve ever written, are no longer available online – even though the links are still live for a profile on state Rep. Babette Josephs and a 1000-word ditty on the nascent Harrisburg reform movement.

Someone just plum and moved them, I guess behind a paywall, though I can’t find them even there.

Why would any newspaper do that, particularly a big newsaper with evergreen like profiles and enterprise features?

This is something I did briefly touch on when I shared a host of thoughts that I hoped the Inquirer would incorporate.

Are you making money selling archives? I don’t know the answer to that, but more of your archives should be opened. I can understand – if only for the time being – keeping some closed, perhaps those older than five years, but they should otherwise be kept open. In doing my honors thesis on the Philadelphia Republican Party I was forced to use stories from the New York Times on Philadelphia mayoral elections. That is embarrassing, and certainly means you won’t make money on what archives you’re selling. [Source]

That’s capitalism, fellas, despite what Stu Bykofsky thinks closing the doors today is ludicrous. A general interest newspaper simply cannot charge for content in the way niche coverage like top business reporting or sports coverage can.  All this does today is welcome competition.

Instead of linking to Stu’s column bolstering a paywall, it sure makes sense for link-longevity for me to link to WHYY’s mention of the story. You just sent me to the competition.

And, Hell, as a freelancer, I want to show off my clips, so you’re pushing me to hold my full-text stories on this site. I always prefer to link out to the source site, but the dead links I have right now are proving otherwise. I left them because I thought the newspapers had moved on from the paywall, particularly for content that could bring in viewers – that would increase clicks at no additional cost to you.

Everyone is trying to figure out the online revenue model, but I don’t think anyone with any foot in the future is calling for taking stories down after they’re up, that’s foolish. I could see the other method more sensibly.

The Philadelphia Business Journal, which by most accounts is faring much better fiscally than its main competition – the Inqy, doesn’t put full-text online of the current issue. But, once it’s archived, it gets up there. I could understand that as a sensible, if temporary, solution. Hey, if you want our stories when they’re fresh, buy out product, but later, we’ll take your links and extra click-thrus.

Giving a story out for free and then disappearing it, killing links from throughout the Internet, well, that doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t understand. Any help out there?

Photo from Webshots.

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