Dvorkin said he told the e-mailers "that NPR does not refuse links but it just wants to make sure that the links are appropriate to a noncommercial and journalistic organization.
"We wouldn't want a commercial outfit to use us in any way they pleased..."
It isn't only commercial activity that concerns NPR. Asked if a link from someone's noncommercial homepage would bother the company, Dvorkin said: "It depends on your homepage -- what if you're an advocate for left-handed socialist diabetics? We wouldn't want to give support to advocacy groups."
"It's part of keeping our integrity that our journalism remain noncommercial, and we're not engaged in advocacy in any way," Dvorkin explained.
Let's look at those:
- "wants to make sure that the links are appropriate to a noncommercial and journalistic organization."
Inbound links do not reflect on the organization they're targeted on. This is like Disney taking the position that it wants to be sure that Mickey Mouse watches may only be worn by people who support its brand of family values, or the NYT trying to ensure that only smart and well-dressed people read the Grey Lady on the subway in the morning.
- "We wouldn't want a commercial outfit to use us in any way they pleased."
Then get off the web. There is nothing about the citation of a web site through a link that should distinguish between commercial and non-commercial linkers. Google is a commercial organization. Does it need a special arrangement to make a link? If Google receives your dispensation, might its competitors be denied the privilege of linking to you?
- "We wouldn't want to give support to advocacy groups."
I think you misunderstand the nature of the news (which is disheartening, considering that you work for NPR). As reporters, your job is to present facts and opinions to the public. These form the underpinnings of public discourse. That discourse (on the web) consists of links and commentary. A debate in a public hall between "left-handed socialist diabetics" and "$SOME_OTHER_STUPID_EXAMPLE" might very well include references to NPR pieces. That same debate, on the web, will augment its references with links. How very curious that a news organization would take the official position that its material is not to be cited in public discourse.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.