The Poynter Institute’s Jill Geisler had an interestimg discussion on her “Super Vision” blog last week with Hofstra University professor Bob Papper, who takes the bold step in suggestion your website should link to the enemy if you cannot get the story first. And though Papper’s comments were focused at broadcast news, his message is one we all can take notice.

Yes, this is blasphemy in the highly competitive news business, but think of it a minute. In today’s information age, are we not blocking the message to our readers if they come to us and we don’t have the item they’re looking for? And isn’t customer service what we need to focus on to retain and grow readers?

So maybe the Tribune wouldn’t want to link to the Sun-Times fro a breaking piece. That’s OK, because I’m sure the Trib would be dispatching a team of reporters and photojournalists to cover the same meeting.

Yet, a newspaper like the Daily Herald has no problem linking to AP for stories it does not have the resources to cover. Yes, AP is a consortium that papers have a financial stake in. But should it be the only source of information for readers?

In this changing world of news partnerships and consortium’s, why shouldn’t the online news world link to stories from other traditional and non-traditional media sources? If a reader to the Daily Herald’s website wants to get more about the Pope’s recent visit to the U.S., why aren’t they providing links to stories and coverage from the New York Times, or Washington Post, or the New World or Catholic News Service, or even the BBC? Are we afraid by doing so we’ll lose readers to them? Or are we telling our readers we’re bringing them what they are looking for, thereby making our brand stronger in the marketplace.

News organizations on the web will evolve into something similar to Google news, only with a catch: They will define a turf and mine it intensively for news and information. And for information outside that turf, they will spider and filter out repetitive and extraneous finds (unlike Google and Yahoo, which will return multiple hits of the same AP story from numerous sources).

True enemies will fight for turf control. Perceived enemies … those who do not pose an immediate threat to the turf … will need to become allies. They are not immediate threats, but they can exchange information that will add value to each other’s turf. It’s those alliances that will strengthen the brands.

For online news, it’s time to define your turf and stick to doing what you do best within those boundaries. Then look to the enemy, define your immediate threats and work to ally with those you had perceived as enemies. They may become your best support in your personal turf war.

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