NYT-IHT and PW link zaps show need for national digital library system. Lessons for book biz?
May 10, 2009 | 8:29 am
After Publishers Weekly parted ways with a former publisher, it zapped links to all his blog entries.
The same happened to a laid-off PW editor as well as the freelance author of some uppity blog posts on the Kindle, DRM, eBabel and other topics—me. Without any real explanation, PW deleted tens of thousands of words of my e-book-related thoughts from the public Web. Oh, the capricious ways of mainstream media! Maybe corporate politics at work?
And now we have some fellow linking or nonlinking victims who, in this case, have worked at the Herald Tribune, owned by the New York Times.
In a blog post aptly headlined Reporter to NY Times Publisher: You Erased My Career, an ex-Trib and Times guy tells how the Times’ owners erased Trib links during a merger of the Times and Trib sites.
According to Thomas Crampton (photo), the Times zapped “Every one of the links ever made to IHT stories now points back to the generic NY Times global front page.” He says: “Even when I go to the NY Times global page, I cannot find my articles. In other words, my entire journalistic career at the IHT—from war zones to SARS wards—has been erased.”
Continuing, he writes:
On a personal level I am horrified that I can no longer see all my stories. The IHT logo on this blog used to link to a search of the IHT website for my articles. On a professional level, I am appalled that the NY Times would kill all the links back to the IHT website. Imagine the power of combining two sites with a Google rank of 9 instead of killing one.
Also, imagine all the frustrated potential readers who click on a link to a specific story only to find themselves landing on the generic NY Times global front page.
The only way readers can find the IHT stories is by going to places where they were copied and reposted or Google cache. Is that a good for readers (or shareholders)?
Meanwhile Wikipedia is suffering from the broken links, as a result of the Times’ bungling.
Is the above a preview of the damage that Google and Amazon could do someday to e-books when interbook linking becomes common but profit motives and corporate politics win out?
Get this straight, Washington. Like the Times, these are profit-oriented companies that care far more about their shareholders (I’m a small Google one) than about the preservation of information or permanent paths to it. Citizens ahead of media, please! They’re not always the same, especially in this era of mega-conglomerates.
Related: Tom Crampton’s follow-up, showing how the NYT-IHT link zaps are hardly unique.