Why don’t newspaper websites link to you?

It’s the same reason New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller thinks Twitter makes you stupid: Newspaper bosses still don’t get it.

That’s a gripe from some Web-savvy news connoisseurs who think sites like The New York Times and The Washington Post should link to other sites that have information that would be interesting for readers.

Gigaom.com writer Matthew Ingram poses the question in a recent article, and it was a topic of discussion on Twitter among a few Web gurus, including Patrick LaForge of the Times.

To sum up their conversation, sites don’t link for the following reasons:

• It’s time-consuming.
• Linking is nice but unnecessary.
• There often isn’t anything worthy to link to.
• The Times wants to be the authoritative link.

The answer is actually pretty simple—at least it was when I worked on the Web desk at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Though we wanted to be seen as a go-to news resource and serve the public the best we could, we also didn’t want people to leave our website. We wanted them to spend as much time there as possible.

The narrowness of this mindset is puzzling. If you provide the best possible online news experience, people should continue to come back to you again and again throughout the day.

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