January 19, 2022

Research: Online Media: The Use and Affect of Hypertext Links in Online News Stories

Research that will be of interest to all info pros and educators. Make sure to review the material on the ExplainMyNews.org web site.

From The Diamondback (U. of Maryland):

In his second study of online media, journalism professor Ronald Yaros explored the way links in online articles affected readers’ enjoyment and understanding of a story. Ultimately, Yaros found journalists need to utilize links in a specific manner for different types of stories.

For example, Yaros said, audiences will best comprehend a complex story about science, health or technology if it includes short, specific links that open in a separate window and give the reader a brief definition or explanation. In contrast, a basic story that readers can easily understand should link to various websites that will enhance the article’s content.


Yaros performed this study using New York Times articles about breast cancer and nanotechnology and more than 300 online readers in a controlled lab environment. The study accounted for how readers typically “scan” a news story when they first access a page and considered whether the use of links ultimately improved or worsened the story’s overall content.


“What I’m studying is the whole way people approach the Web and mobile devices to read news,” Yaros said. “We have to conduct research that gives us more information on how people think. Online

Online, Most people are scanners, so just giving them a full page of text or a long video just doesn’t work anymore.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: “The Way You Combine Text With Links Can Enhance Reader Interest and Understanding”
More info about the study discussed in the article.

Learn More About ExplainMyNews.org/Information Lab 3.0
Dr. Yaros runs the site and program at the Merrill School of Journalism, U. of Maryland. He teaches Information 3.0 and Understanding News Audiences.  We think Dr. Yaros would be an excellent speaker at library conferences. As we’ve said many times in the past librarians/info scientists and journalists can learn a lot from each other.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.