Ann and I ended up in the news again today, this time in a New York Post article about Twitter. I used Twitter to send out updates on what was going on during labor. I’m probably not the first to do it, but it’s an interesting use case for an article like this, aimed at introducing some new tech that’s been popping up more and more in popular culture.
But when I noticed the accompanying photoillustration I had to post this screenshot. Notice anything a little off?
Click here to see the full-sized screenshot. The caption text seems to imply that it’s a photo of Ann. For those of you who don’t know us personally, Ann’s not actually a white person like miss stock photo here.
I’m not offended or anything, just perplexed. The reporter found my blog, and from my blog you can find plenty of photos of Ann and Athena. Heck, since the baby name business last year you can find photos of the two of us on other newspapers’ web sites:
Ah, that’s better.
I would have happily sent along a photo for the illustration, free of charge, had I been asked. Objectively speaking, Athena is so cute that her photo would have increased sales of the Post today by at least 34 percent. Here’s proof:
Stock photos can serve a useful purpose, but with so many people sharing photos on sites like Flickr, Picasa and Facebook, it seems kind of silly here.
This is the first weird laziness I wanted to point out. The second is the strange lack of links. The article mentions a number of people as having Twitter accounts but only links to a few of them. The sidebar article with “Top Twitter Feeds Worth Following” is even worse – if these people are worth following, why wouldn’t you link to the profiles so your readers can… you know… follow them. I guess users can carefully drag their cursor over the url, copy, and paste into their browser but we’re talking about a very basic feature of the web here.
Now I don’t really care that my Twitter profile isn’t linked, I’ve already got a bunch of people following me since SearchEngineLand published their list of Googlers (if you happen to be one of those people, please excuse my rather humdrum updates). But it seems kind of wrong to quote from my blog and not bother linking to the source.
I can totally understand a journalist missing the mark a bit on a relatively new and obscure technology like Twitter, but the lack of linking in mainstream news articles pervasive and is tantamount to not citing sources.
I’ve worked for a few newspapers and their web sites and I can tell you some of the operational reasons why it happens – most reporters write for the printed page, where you can’t click on links, and many newspapers relay on content management systems that have web publishing tacked on as an afterthought. Reporters and editors use the web extensively for research but many don’t actually engage it in meaningful ways.
This post is starting to veer dangerously close to topics I want to cover in length later, so I’ll cut out here. To sum up:
- That’s not my wife
- My daughter is unreasonably cute
- Cite your sources