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SEO Ethics: New York Times is Challenged

Posted By Bryan Eisenberg On August 27, 2007 @ 7:15 am In Journalism,Publishing,Relevance,Search Engine Marketing | 22 Comments

SEO ethics restricted area [1] Clark Hoyt, the New York Times public editor, serves as the readers’ representative. In his Op Ed column [2], he writes:

A BUSINESS strategy of The New York Times to get its articles to pop up first in Internet searches is creating a perplexing problem: long-buried information about people that is wrong, outdated or incomplete is getting unwelcome new life.

People are coming forward at the rate of roughly one a day to complain that they are being embarrassed, are worried about losing or not getting jobs, or may be losing customers because of the sudden prominence of old news articles that contain errors or were never followed up.

Archived material is being pushed to the top of the search engine result pages by the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts of the New York Times. That is considered good business, especially for a website that makes money from displaying ads and the reader gets what might be relevant information. However, the practice raises a new crop of questions about journalistic ethics:

  • What is their responsibility to archive all of their published works?
  • Do they have a responsibility as a news organization to follow up on all published material to verify outcomes and then link it back to the older articles?
  • Should they allow people the ability to comment on this dated material?
  • Should they allow for the editing of the archives at a later date to change what was originally published as news?
  • Should some material just be deleted and forgotten in this digital age?
  • Whose responsibility is it to monitor and influence (if possible) what the search engines say about people?

Please let me know what you think about these new ethical challenges for journalists. What are our responsibilities as bloggers? Do the readers even care when things have finally been resolved [3]?

P.S. If you’re in the mood for contemplating ethical challenges, Marshall Sponder raises another large one: What’s an honest SEO person to do when Universal Search clogs up SERPS with results they can’t manipulate? [4]


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URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/08/27/seo-ethics-new-york-times-is-challenged/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/Bryan/restrictedfade.jpg

[2] Op Ed column: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/opinion/26pubed.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fThe%20Public%20Editor

[3] things have finally been resolved: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/08/01/best-buy-worst-buy/

[4] What’s an honest SEO person to do when Universal Search clogs up SERPS with results they can’t manipulate?: http://www.webmetricsguru.com/2007/08/whats_an_honest_seo_person_to.html

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