So, it appears that 13WHAM has a new website. Cool! Layout’s a bit more modern (though not responsive), the top navigation is a bit more direct way of navigating the site. All good.
Neither is this restricted to current events. By my count, I have made reference to 13WHAM stories on this blog no less than 100 times in the last few years. None of those links seems to work (I’m not trawling through all 100 posts. But a random search is convincing).
It would be unfortunate if this media was permanently lost. A news media org is a lot of things, but it is also – or should also be – a repository of historical record. Past news articles capture the understanding of events as they unfolded, including quotes from relevant players and contextual information that can often get lost in the debates. That is especially true in an always-on, socially networked culture.
And speaking of networked, historical media ought also to be kept exactly where it was placed. Many online media pubs, including this one, link to stories found in mainstream media outlets such as 13WHAM. This blog maintains “permalinks,” meaning that the link to this article you see in your browser’s URL bar will not change over time. It includes the date and title of the post right in the URL. Regardless of structure, however, when a media outlet chooses to move (or, let’s hope not delete) its content, the links to their content break on this one.
Poof! Paragraphs of highly relevant historical content, gone in a whim. Lest you think this unimportant, I will point out that nearly 60% of my monthly traffic comes from Google searches, as I suspect is the case for most alternative online media. People go searching for a topic, find my article, and link to content I used as source material. Except now they cannot do that with 13WHAM links.
This data can’t really be gone, can it? If not, then where is it and why did 13WHAM chose to break all my contextual information?
A company or website’s media is, ultimately, theirs. They can do what they like with it. I’m hopeful that this is an oversight that the company plans on correcting soon. And anyway, it is certainly true that other media outlets ( @DandC ahem ) have a bad habit of hiding their old content in archives that break links and lose meaning. But if I were a journalist working for 13WHAM, I would be pretty disappointed that, starting now, I’ll no longer be able to reference any of my hard work and effort in upcoming news articles. Because it is all gone?
Please. Tell me this is not the case.
Late Update: Gotta love Twitter:
@dragonflyeye Working on transitioning over archives. Rough process, but we're working hard for viewers – we know it's an important service!
— Seth Palmer (@sethpalmer3) July 16, 2013
— HacksHackersROC (@HacksHackersROC) July 16, 2013
Links are the lifeblood of Internet. Any news org with digital presence that doesn't understand this might as well not have a website.
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) July 16, 2013