A thought on papers linking all over the place

As most web readers know, The Huffington Post is often cited as a good example of what journalism may be in the future – or rather, what a newspaper may be – and while it doesn’t tickle my fancy, I’ll let others enjoy it (each to their own and all that) but there’s also been a row recently about links where the The New York Times Company is being sued for copyright infringement over some local sites linking with headlines/intros to another publisher’s articles. The other publisher claims that by going straight to the story page and not going through a main page or anything, then they are deprived of advertising.

Now, I can sympathise a little, but a couple of points:
1) The links are useful. The more places you are linked at, the more chances people will come and read your story. It’s like a headline in a paper. If they don’t like it, they’ll move on and won’t read it.
2) I still don’t know anyone who clicks on ads on the web. I know people who go for promo codes that are emailed/texted to them but a normal ad rarely seems to do the trick, but someone must be doing it I guess.

However, what caught my eye was this comment by Jeff Jarvis: “they will allow a local publication to do local well and link to other stories rather than rewriting them: Do what you do best, link to the rest.

Here’s a thought for many a local paper – and I appreciate that Jeff is talking more about the US where local has a different definition to the UK – To hell with the rest. Do local, do nothing but local, do it better than anyone else. Someone else wants to talk about Gaza? Let them, unless you have a strong local angle. Famine in Africa? Is there a local angle? Then it’s not in. Instead of pushing for the larger and larger coverage, dump it. Let people go the BBC or The Guardian or somwhere for that. Let them come to you for the local.

And if you’re that good at it, then everyone will link to you. And if everyone’s looking at your site, then it’s up to you to try and find a way to make that profitable (if profit is your thing).

AP suddenly gains 10million reporters thanks to the iPhone

Well, how long before the BBC nab this idea? As part of the iPhone 2.0/iPhone 3G release, it’s been revealed that AP has an app ready for it which will let you submit pics and text to them (which has been greeted by some) but how will these people get paid or is web2.0 being used again to drive nothing more than some free pics and text? And who’s the poor soul who will have to wade through all of the content for quality?

And never mind the current rows over net neutrality and the iPlayer eating bandwidth. Once the iPhone does video, that AP link will get swamped – especially as by the time we get to v3 of the iPhone – there may well be 15million plus people using it.

(thoughts on the upgrade to the iPhone: it’s a nicer piece of kit now at a far more sensible price, but I’ll stick with Nokia’s N95. The UI might be an absolute dog, the GPS may be horrific and Orange may be complete ripoff pricing merchants with a terrible sales service – in store and on phone – but the ability to forward emails, attach a keyboard and record video/audio make it the better workhorse for now.)

I wonder though…is there a future in this for newspapers. Say, a newspaper did a tie-in with Apple and a mobile network. Joe Punter gets a free iPhone and cheap rate in return for filing stories…I wonder if that could work. Would the paper get a boost if you tied in hard-copy sales to keeping your phone?