Traditional media sites used to recoil at the idea of linking to any content other than their own. This made these sites one-way islands in the link-driven web ecosystem, but worse is they have suffered disintermediation at the hands of Google, Digg, and other aggregators that don’t discriminate and that prioritize what’s best for the user rather than what’s best for the publisher. But that’s starting to change.

A few weeks ago the New York Times announced they would use third-party content for their new auto site. And today Inform announced that 16 of is traditional media clients, including WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive’s and Conde Nast’s, would be adding third-party sites to their search results (via WSJ):

The new technology automates that process and creates a new search results page that includes information and articles about related topics from a variety of sources, such as other newspapers or blogs.

For these traditional media sites, the aim of this feature is “encouraging readers to use them as a first stop for information gathering, just like Google or Yahoo.” Suffice it to say that transforming an original content site into a general purpose search destination is a tough sell. Nevertheless, these sites will be doing a better job serving the needs of their users by not assuming they have a monopoly on the best content, and that can only be a good thing.

Also worth noting is this odd claim for the WSJ article:

The goal is to get more people to visit these sites more frequently, which would in turn cause the sites to show up higher on the results page of search engines like Google.

Since when does increased traffic mean higher search ranking? Paging SEO helpline.