Gay Talese explains perfectly why I hate broken links

“I am a record-keeper,” he says in this wonderful short video from Grantland.

“I am someone who cares about the past as much as the future. I don’t think it’s ethical to erase the past.”

I have had the sad fortune of working with some very powerful people who have no respect for what Mr. Talese succinctly laid out. Editors who care very much about writing stories that get temporary traffic, but years later abandon stories and sections and entire blogs and delete them willy-nilly for a variety of foolish reasons.

As journalists, we ARE record-keepers. By being digital journalists we have a new responsibility to be custodians to the past even if that past is merely a few years old.

Thus it is irresponsible to delete blogs, stories, posts and photos.

There should never be a broken link on a professional news site that leads to something else within that news site.

Likewise there should be more, not less, hyperlinks to corroborating evidence. Rarely do I see that in major news sites, and it’s appalling. All these digital editors, web producers, and online publications, and yet we try to pretend that all of the information is conveniently packaged in that one story? Impossible. Link.

And for God sake, don’t change the URL, and if you must, have a solid way to redirect it to where it is now.