Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Missing Link(s)

In the comments to a recent post, I mentioned my desire to start writing more letters. I'm starting small with the following brief (but wordy, as I always get when writing letters for some reason) note which questions why the media (the Globe and Mail in this case), so stubbornly refuses to provide links to the studies/reports etc. which they mention in their stories - even when these sources are freely available on the internet.

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Dear Globe and Mail,

In reading your paper I have noticed that articles and columns therein often make reference to external reports, papers and studies. For example, Doug Saunders' column on July 2, 2005, "To make poverty history, remember the history of poverty" has the following passage, "The G-8 leaders seem to have made a similar realization, and the report of the Commission for Africa (available on the Web) is actually a brilliant distillation of this discovery."

My question is, why include the text "(available on the web)" instead of providing the address directly
("http://www.commissionforafrica.org/english/report/introduction.html")?

I don't intend to single out Saunders since this is by no means an isolated example and indeed, mentioning that the study is available on the web at all seems to go beyond the usual standard practice of complete silence on the availability of the report.

I find this behavior especially irritating in the online edition of your paper, for which you can assume that everybody reading the article in question has internet access, and for which the text of the article itself could be hyperlinked, thus avoiding concerns with long, cryptic URL's.

Presumably, if the reader is expected to be interested in the commentary on the study/report in question, it seems reasonable to think they may want to read the study/report itself. Perhaps there is a legal concern with linking to outside sites (although I don't see how this would apply to sites like 'The Commission for Africa') or perhaps there is concern that the links might change or disappear over time, but I think anyone who uses the internet regularly appreciates that old links don't always work.

Speaking for myself, I would strongly prefer if you provided URL's for the studies/reports you refer to and saved me the trouble of tracking them down myself. When writing on my blog, I always make an effort to provide links to the material I am discussing - it is only common courtesy. For an organization such as yours which should always be looking for easy ways to provide greater value to readers, it would seem to not only be courteous but good business sense as well.

I await your response, in puzzlement at why the nation's largest media outlets seem incapable of meeting standards which even the humblest of blogs takes as a matter of course.

Sincerely,
Declan Dunne,
Vancouver.

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While I'm writing, I should mention that the article by Saunders was worthwhile, tracking the failure of various ideologically driven economic movements in Africa through the decades and coming to the unsurprising conclusion that poverty is a complex problem which requires complex, pragmatic, experience-driven solutions in order to be successfully addressed:
"African states could now look at their once-blighted neighbours in the Indian subcontinent, in China and in South America, all of whom had used a smart mix of government redistribution, regulatory control, and economic freedom and open trade to bring themselves out of poverty." ... "For Africa, it marked the end of almost 60 years of theories, all of which led to more poverty."

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1 Comments:


  • I await your response, in puzzlement at why the nation's largest media outlets seem incapable of meeting standards which even the humblest of blogs takes as a matter of course.


    amen!

    By Blogger angela, at 10:39 AM  

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