Suntimes.com, Web site of the Chicago Sun-Times, has links to "Visit our online partners:" at the bottom of almost every page sitewide. Here are the links, worded as they appear on the site:
- Daily Southtown
- Pioneer Press
- Suburban Chicago Newspapers
- Star Newspapers
- Jerusalem Post
- Daily Telegraph
What do these sites have in common? They're all properties of Hollinger International, a large media chain that owns the Sun-Times. It seems as if some executive at Hollinger decided to require suntimes.com to link to other papers in the chain, without considering whether those links would be of any value.
And indeed, many of these links are utterly useless. The Jerusalem Post? The UK's Daily Telegraph? There's nothing here to explain why a reader of the Chicago Sun-Times would ever want to click those.
I can see how the link to Suburban Chicago Newspapers is useful -- not only because that site's content is relevant to Sun-Times readers, but also because it includes the "Suburban Chicago" in the link text; that tells me what I should expect to see upon clicking the link.
The link to "Post-Tribune," on the other hand, means little to me. If it weren't grouped with the Jerusalem Post, maybe I'd guess (correctly) that it's another Chicago-area newspaper. But putting it next to the Post throws it all out of whack; it makes me skeptical of all those links.
I'd suggest they remove these links, because they're unnecessary, confusing and seemingly random. But if they insist on keeping them, here are two suggestions:
- Clarify the phrase "Visit our online partners." Something like "Other Hollinger newspapers" would give users a better idea of what those links are. And maybe link the word "Hollinger" to the media chain's corporate site; "Hollinger" alone is meaningless to people who don't care about media ownership.
- Clarify the link text. For example, instead of "Post-Tribune," say something like "Northwest Indiana news -- Post-Tribune." It's impractical to link to a news site without identifying which part of the world it covers.