I watch Bay News 9 quite a bit, while I’m eating lunch or just letting it cycle in the background while I’m writing. Bay News 9 is a 24-hour regional news channel here in West Central Florida only available to subscribers of Bright House Networks cable TV. It’s a pretty informative mix of national and (more importantly) local news–yeah, it tends to beat you over the head with the same stories if you watch for more than an hour at a time, but sometimes that seems like a fair trade-off for the coverage and feel of a news outlet that seems to actually have roots in the community.
I had it on tonight while laptopping casually away when a really interesting Black History Month piece came on about The Weekly Challenger, a St. Pete-based African-American newspaper founded by community activist Cleveland Johnson in 1967 that is still produced today. It was a good segment, one of those meaningful bits that lends substance to the spectrum of “soft news,”–a real and worthy feature.
What bothered me about it, though, was the fact that instead of just telling viewers that The Weekly Challenger‘s website address was the name of the paper with a freakin’ dot-com added to the end of it, the anchor instructed folks to go to Bay News 9’s website, where they could find a link to the periodical’s website. This struck me as pretty tacky–“let’s make every viewer interested in learning more about this contribute to our own hits, as a sort of tip for turning them on to the information.” [Quotes mine.]
It only took about a minute of navigating Bay News 9’s site to find the link, but still. I could understand it if we were talking about a more difficult address to recite or remember, BUT IT’S THE NAME OF THE PAPER WITH A FREAKIN’ DOT-COM ADDED TO THE END OF IT.
My agreement with Tampa weekly Creative Loafing doesn’t specify that I can’t post the columns I write for them here in their entirety. It probably would, if I didn’t have the history and relationship with the newspaper that I do–but it wouldn’t state that I couldn’t tweet to a peripheral link here rather than directly to their own site, to give my own site hits.
In other words, I could make everybody who follows my Twitter feed, or Digg or Reddit or whatever, come here first to link to stuff I write for other people, but I don’t, because it’s disrespectful–disrespectful of your time, disrespectful of the fact that the information is more important than where it comes from. It’s a chintzy little bullshit way to increase visits to a website by people who can make up their own minds from the story whether or not they want to read more of my shit.
I’ll be paying more attention to how often Bay News 9 attempts to send viewers to their own site rather than directly to the material being covered in the future.