Tuesday, February 22, 2005

More on RSS

Could RSS provide a new revenue stream for news?

RSS is rapidly growing in popularity, although it's still in the early adopter stage. Recent Pew research shows that only about 5% of internet users are using RSS.

From the user's point of view it's a mighty simple and easy way of getting the stories you want rather than having to wade through a bunch of links and headlines some editor thinks you're interested in.

And there's the rub. If RSS takes some of the editorial selection out of the hands of editors - and it might - how will news sites be managed? It's a not-too-distant dilemma for online news managers. Once RSS feeds and aggregators start to gain mass popularity the whole idea of a front page that attracts the majority of visits - and a premium for ad placement - starts to look wobbly.

It's worth thinking about, even if it is still a little way off yet.

Will we have to pay for RSS feeds? How far will news sites go in dropping existing content to protect offline businesses? It's already happening with some Scandinavian papers.

So what is an RSS feed? What do they look like? How do they work? Where do you get them?

Here's a start: The Age has a handful. The ABC has put its TV guide on an RSS feed (woohoo!). Not much else available from the Australian media (nothing from News Ltd). But the Washington Post shows what a large paper can do, and same goes for the New York Times.

Try this collection of feeds set up by Jonathan Dube at Poynter.

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