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Why I post links without context

I’ve worked alongside news and journalism for a long time - since helping the team at Latakoo to define and build their first products that helped journalists with networks like NBC News send video back to their newsrooms using commodity internet connections. But the last few years have marked the first time I’ve worked inside a newsroom.

Newsrooms often have impartiality rules that mean you have to be very careful what you say. (You also often can’t make political contributions, announce that you’re at a protest, declare a donation to a non-profit, or publicly endorse a candidate.) There’s been a lot of debate about these over the past few years - no human is actually impartial, after all, so sometimes these policies can look like a lack of transparency into a person’s motivations and biases - but, regardless, the policies are in place.

I used to run a regular piece in this space called Fairness Friday, where I’d highlight a different mutual aid or social justice organization and make a donation. I stopped doing the pieces (but not the donations) because it ran against those policies.

The other thing I did was stop sharing my opinion on links I shared. Instead, I tried to find a representative pull-quote from the piece and let it speak for itself. That both did the job of satisfying social media policies and allowing me to continue to share links that I found interesting. It also, in some ways, gave more credit to the reader: different people would doubtless have different reactions to each story.

Still, it’s not really in the spirit of blogging, and I’ve taken some criticism for the way I’ve posted. Stephen Downes has made general comments like these, which I don’t (completely) disagree with:

Sure, some people post interesting things, but a sizable number simply post links to commercial media paywalls. It's lazy and unthinking and I think characterizes most posts from most people.

So I’m going to try and - tentatively - insert more of myself into the links I share, and do a better job of sharing links that most people can actually read.

I share on my website first; a series of automations then posts them to social media sites like Mastodon, LinkedIn, and so on, with as much of my written context as those platforms will fit. But my website is always my primary source, and it makes sense that links I post there should be shared with my opinion and reflections. So that’s what I’ll try and do.

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