Expanding the notion of link journalism

One of the things that I’m extremely interested in expanding at The Whitman Pioneer is the use of tools like Publish2 among the newsroom. I think that the potential for link journalism is tremendous and I definitely think that Publish2 is the best among what’s out there right now. However, I have a significant problem with it in terms of how applicable it is to the future of news.

Expand Editorial Standards

Publish2’s website states that: “Free Publish2 accounts are available to journalists who maintain our editorial standards.” Furthermore, those standards read:

At a time when digital technology is rapidly transforming and expanding the practice of journalism, and allowing anyone to wield “the power of the press,” editorial standards are more important than ever. These standards are what separate journalism from marketing, PR, paid advocacy, or personal expression, which on the web are increasingly difficult to differentiate.

While I certainly agree that “digital technology is rapidly transforming and expanding the practice of journalism” I’ve come to steadily disagree with the idea that the solution is reassert editorial standards within the journalism community.

We’ve come to live in a time when almost anyone can break a news story with Twitter or their blog and where others can provide HD video coverage of an event with something that fits in their pocket. Due to this, I think that the extension of the editorial standards into civil society is more important than ever.

How does this factor into the future?

I have a hard time foreseeing a future for newspapers if they do not rely heavily upon their communities for contributions. While letters to the editor, guest columnists, and other means of involvement are great I think that the greatest potential is building a newspaper site that incorporates stories from the entire community.

Personal blogs, independent papers, art magazines, etc. all make up the coverage of a community and all carry the potential to add to the worth of a local paper. Sure, a journalist could link to this content with Publish2 and get it onto the paper’s site that way, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the community.

How much more interested in a local paper would a community be if it knew that it could submit links that would be included on the site? Sure, this could be accomplished with Delicious but it would be easier with a link-sharing tool that focusing on news stories.

Does it defeat the purpose of Publish2?

While I recognize the role that limiting membership in Publish2 to journalists plays I don’t think that expanding membership opportunities would detract from their purpose.

If the concern is that the quality of stories linked to would deteriorate then that shows an alarmingly low respect for the general news-reading community. The great thing that Publish2 has that Delicious and other tools don’t is the quality of stories. I sincerely doubt that by opening up Publish2 the quality would degrade.

Ultimately I have a hard time conceiving of the rationale behind limiting Publish2 to journalists. It certainly creates a nice little community of journalists, but so did the institutions of the old model of journalism that is collapsing by the week.

By expanding the possibilities of Publish2 the diversity of stories linked would rise and the utility of the service to news orgs would be drastically increased.

Postnote: Don’t get me wrong, I really love Publish2 and the service it offers. My hope is that the above didn’t come off too harsh and that it’s simply taken as advice for how to move the service forward. To see some of the great examples of how newsrooms are already making use of Publish2 you can see their examples page.


Scott Karp says:


Thanks for the thoughtful post.

First, our new Digital Sunlight initiative will open Publish2 to anyone to submit links, tips, and leads — to collaborate openly with journalists. If you haven’t, please read our announcement post — I think you’ll find we’re already doing exactly what you suggest: http://publishing2.com/2009/02/17/announcing-digital-sunlight-publish2s-platform-for-collaborative-journalism/

Also realize that we based Publish2 membership not on employment with a traditional news organization but rather on general editorial standards precisely because we wanted to open it up as much as possible. If you check out our journalist directory, you’ll find it’s quite a diverse community: http://www.publish2.com/directory/journalists

Lastly, I think you misunderstand the purpose of the editorial standards and Publish2’s velvet rope. It’s not about some people being smarter than others or more capable, or about who should be able to participate earnestly in journalism. It’s about trust and transparency. The web is filled with people whose purpose is not to inform but rather scam, manipulate, misinform, sell, shill, game, and deceive. Anything that taps into the open web — from Google to Digg to Wikipedia — fights a non-stop battle against gaming an manipulation.

Publish2’s velvet rope is about keeping those elements out, not about keeping out engaged people in the community who want to participate constructively towards a more collaborative idea of journalism.

I hope that helps clarify.


Scott Karp

Andrew says:

Thank you Scott, that does do a lot to clarify. I had not heard about the Digital Sunlight initiative yet. That certainly does seem to aiming toward many of the things that I would like to see done with Publish2.

Also, thanks for clarifying the “editorial standards” part. So often that kind of language is used to justify an exclusionary “velvet rope” that I was a little confused by its use in conjunction in with Publish2. It’s heartening to hear that it’s used more just to keep scammers out than to maintain a community of only journalists in the traditional sense.

Again, thank you for the comment and believe me when I say that I really do appreciate what Publish2 is doing and think that it’s potential is HUGE.

Comments closed