Pop Quiz: What\’s Missing from this Article?

Check out this AP article published today on the web site of the Arizona Republic about a new online resource offered by the US. Federal Reserve: Fed starts financial education web site.

Pop quiz: What’s missing from this article?…

Here’s a hint

Give up?

ANSWER: The story fails to mention the name or URL of the new Fed site! (Let alone provide a live hyperlink.)

For the record, this is the Fed’s new educational site: Federal Reserve Education (FRED). The topic list looks good, but I haven’t explored it yet, so I can’t comment on the quality.

Anyway… Back to the AP story, and the Republic’s presentation of it. Yet another “D’oh!” moment in online media. I don’t know whether the original AP wire service story included the site’s name or URL. However, even if AP neglected to offer that crucial information, the Republic’s editorial or web staff could have corrected that oversight and inserted the site name and URL (or even better, a link) into their presentation of the story. It would have taken less than a minute.

Really – without that information, the value of this story is minimal. At least from the perspective of the online audience, and I’d assume for many print readers as well. (I don’t know whether this story ran in the Republic’s print edition.)

I’m not trying to beat up on the Republic per se. I’m just pointing this example out because I see this sort of gaffe happen all the time in web sites for mainstream news organizations. It’s just silly.

Here’s my advice: If you’re writing a story about a web site, or about a document that is available online, you should always provide a direct link to it – ideally in a prominent place – regardless of whether the site name or URL appeared in the original (wire service or print) version. It’s easy and fast, and it makes sense from the perspective of the online news audience.

Someone got it right. This Apr. 18 Xinhua story published in Linux Insider did include a link to the new Fed educational site. Also, the Fed’s Apr. 18 press release about the site featured the site name and URL, including a live link. I’m assuming AP saw that release.

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