posted Oct 11, 2000

When to Make the Link
Free Speech
10/11/2000; 2:27:37 PM

'It's an illustration of potential pitfalls as news organizations direct readers into cyberspace. And it raises the question: If these news organizations have an obligation to stand behind the content of their stories, should they also be responsible for the material on the sites to which they send their readers?'

Well, that depends. When the news announces that there will be a Klu Klux Klan rally at the capitol steps tommorow at 5:30 p.m., are they somehow magically responsible for the rally? Should we prosecute the news outlets under hate crime laws?

The only reason not to link to sources is that you don't want your interpretation challenged, or you don't trust your readers (or you don't trust your readers not to challenge your interpretation). Make the links. Disclaim them to your hearts content, but it's not really necessary, because you are not responsible for the content on the other end.

If you are responsible for the content on the other end, then it should cut both ways. If you link somewhere "bad" (whatever "bad" is), then you should share in the "bad" consequences, but that should equally mean that by linking somewhere "good" you should share in the "good" consequences. Clearly, getting "goodness" from a link is absurd (Amazon, I hereby charge you $1000 for this link!). Being somehow responsible for bad effects is equally absurd for exactly the same reasons.

Link the sources!


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