According to Justin Martin at Poynter.org, the answer is yes. His argument: Why Christian Science Monitor stories have too many links, wrong ones. Excerpt:
I often don’t read my own articles in The Christian Science Monitor. The volume of hyperlinks the publication drops in their copy is just too distracting. Consider this Op-Ed on volunteerism among Millennials.
Not only does it contain no fewer than 28 links, but among them are a number of highly disruptive, full-line links to Monitor content, screaming things like, “RELATED: Top 4 obstacles for young people – and how to cope.” The all-caps grabber and full-line disruption is more befitting an ad for a used-car dealer than the innards of a respected news provider.
This one article contains five full line-break links to Monitor articles, and a sixth pasted after the writer’s bio. Every one of the 28 hyperlinks connects readers to Monitor content; readers aren’t afforded a single axon to outside information. The reason the article is littered with so many hyperlinks, a Monitor editor told me, is that the publication uses a computer program which scours copy and inserts links beneath words like “Tulsa,” “Harvard,” and “Twitter,” which direct readers to past Monitor stories.
These links are not placed to provide readers with the richest evidence and information accrued during newsgathering for the story at hand. The Monitor tries hard to keep its readers contained in its site. On many occasions I’ve submitted Op-Eds to The Monitor containing links to information and evidence I think readers will find helpful; the links also support the integrity of my reporting. These links, though, don’t make it past the publication’s self-containing software, in part due to technical limitations. But that’s not all.
“We also don’t have the manpower to vet and shepherd through links that our contributors might ask us to include,” Monitor editor John Yemma told me in an email.
“We do favor links to our own journalism, since we invest heavily in it, are confident about its quality, and want to invite readers to engage more deeply with the Monitor,” he said. “We weigh all opinions — as we will yours — in our ongoing effort to improve our presentation of news.”
I can understand the Monitor's interest in drawing readers to related Monitor stories; it helps to boost on-site traffic. But it can be overdone. The function of links in a news story should be to document sources and strengthen arguments—not to lure readers in front of "related" stuff with new ads.
On some issues, however, you may have a real case for linking to related reports. On The Tyee, we regularly link to earlier articles because we keep exploring the same political issues, such as inequality, in the light of new events and evidence. But we usually limit such links to three or four, in a sidebar.
Ideally, links in a web article should enhance the value of the article without sending the reader off to get lost in a labyrinth of hypertext.