A recent study suggests Big News prefers linking to itself:
[M]ainstream news outlets were philosophically much more open to linking anywhere. But in practice they linked internally 91 percent of the time. In contrast, independent bloggers linked internally 18 percent of the time.
“[F]or most people the real value of links, as a form of currency, lies in the way they can encapsulate a personal assessment of the worth of a piece of content on the net — a webpage, or a blog post, or a YouTube video, or whatever. A truly valuable link isn’t some routine, automatic token of credit; it represents a careful, conscious expression of personal judgment. In its original form, Google worked because links meant something. If you could trust the sincerity of links, you could count them up and have a reliable indicator of collective wisdom. Those days are gone.
Meaningful links are still out there, of course, but they’ve been overwhelmed by spam links, lazy links, automatic links, SEO links, promotional links, and, yes, self-links. The good links have been crowded out by all the links that exist for ulterior, usually self-serving purposes — that have nothing to do with one human being making a careful assessment of the value of the work of another human being. The currency has been debased. That’s why Google now has to evaluate something like 200 different signals to rank search results. Links are far less reliable than they used to be.”